The borough’s top public health official has said analysis of health data which ranked areas of the UK and showed Blackburn with Darwen to be among the worst areas is “unhelpful.”

The Health Rating Report, compiled by BIOHIT Healthcare, lists areas with the highest and lowest health scores, seeing how they compare to the average of 100, determining the overall health of each location.

Three areas of Lancashire, including Blackburn with Darwen, were ranked among the unhealthiest places in the country for 2021.

Blackpool was rated as the unhealthiest place in the country, while Burnley was also in the bottom 20.

The Ribble Valley, however, was among the top 10 healthiest areas.

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BIOHIT said: “Many areas in the UK experience different ways of life when it comes to a variety of aspects like physical and mental health, unemployment, and road safety rates.

"All this information determines an area’s health rating.”

It said data was obtained from the latest Health Score Index from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) before recording all the local authorities’ index scores.

These were then ranked from lowest to highest.

The firm added: “It is well documented that a strong association exists between socioeconomic status and health, and when it comes to gastrointestinal disease for example, this is particularly evident in children presenting with gastrointestinal infections.

“Studies have also shown that deprivation is linked to higher incidences of peptic ulcer disease and severe oesophagitis, and later stage diagnosis of cancer.

“Health scores help highlight potential inequalities and deprivation that may inform and guide better policies on healthcare provision.”

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However, Professor Abdul Razaq, Blackburn with Darwen Council’s director of public health, said the report did not represent the progress made in the borough.

He said: “This health index snapshot ranking methodology of the overall health and well-being of our population is unhelpful and does not represent the progress we are making in improving the health of our population.

“We are working together with all our local statutory and VCFSE sector partners in the borough across the life course in our start well, live well and age well services and are striving to ensure that every single resident has a good quality of life and no one is left behind by improving the determinants of health of housing, skills and employment.

“Blackburn with Darwen is a UNICEF breastfeeding gold award holder empowering mother, baby and families in our family hubs, delivers over 4,000 NHS health checks a year in GP surgeries and in the community, active programmes in improving flu and childhood immunisation uptake, has improved child dental decay rates, provides services to provide treatment and recovery from substance misuse, and delivers essential sexual health services providing support for physical and mental health wellbeing for women, adolescents and vulnerable groups. 

“Addressing health equity continues to be an important priority to achieve the best possible outcomes for our residents.”

The report took into account a variety of aspects like physical and mental health, unemployment, and road safety rates.

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Christopher Bell, adult services lead at Lancashire Mind, said: “We strive to promote positive mental health across the whole of Lancashire but we have several projects based in East Lancashire including Flourishing Minds and Connecting Communities.

“These projects aim to promote positive wellbeing for all, supporting local people to develop an understanding of their mental health as well as strategies to maintain or improve their wellbeing.

“Our hope at Lancashire Mind is that through projects like Flourishing Minds and Connecting Communities people can feel in control of their own wellbeing journey and hopefully share the learning with others in their local community.”

With 100 being the average score, Blackpool was ranked the worst in the UK with a score of 76.5. while Burnley received a score of 85.4, with Blackburn with Darwen just ahead on 86.7

Ribble Valley scored 121.9 and was one of only two authorities in the North West to make the top 20.