Four out of seven Lincolnshire district councils saw a decrease in the overall wellbeing of their communities in the first year of the COVID pandemic, according to a new data tool.
The Office for National Statistic’s Health Index scores areas based on a number of socio-economic factors including access to local services and green spaces, employment levels, road safety, crime and feelings of anxiety.
Boston, East Lindsey, North Kesteven and West Lindsey all saw their overall scores decrease between 2019-2020 as Lincolnshire felt the impacts of widespread changes to health and well-being.
The data, recorded between 2015-2020, revealed mental health in areas like Boston plummeted during 2020, while child vaccination also affected communities’ ability to protect themselves.
Crime, which had been on a downward trend, had a massive swing to improve in several areas.
The data uses 2015 as a baseline score of 100 across England. Lower scores indicate worse health while higher ones show better outcomes.
Nationally the index shows a decline across England between 2019-2020 and a return to 2015 levels.
For the full data visit here.
Below are some of the highlights for Greater Lincolnshire.
Boston’s overall Health Index Score decreased by 1 point in 2020 for a score of 89.2.
Access to private outdoor space (green space) was top with a score of 109.7.
Improvements in life satisfaction and a decrease in anxiety saw personal well-being improve by 15.6 points since 2015. It now sits at 108.9 although this is a drop from a 2018 peak of 121.0. Boston went from being in the bottom 20% of local authority areas to being in the top 10%.
Air pollution and rough sleeping meant living conditions – which considers household overcrowding and noise complaints – also increased to 107.6 points from 99.7 in 2015 and took the authority out of the bottom 40%.
An increase in suicides and health conditions across the district saw mental health plummet during 2020, going from a score of 115.1 in 2019 to 99.2 in 2020 with Boston moving out of the top 10% local authorities.
The authority was also the worst scored (87.5) in the East Midlands for protective measures such as cancer screening and child vaccination.
The lowest indicator scores were around disability, childhood obesity and the distance to sports or leisure facilities.
East Lindsey’s overall tally decreased by 1 point in 2020, leaving the authority with a score of 90.7.
The district’s best score in 2020 was 116.3 for health relating to living conditions while its worst was for access to services at 75.4 – the lowest in the East Midlands.
The authority was in the top 40% for its access to private green space, above both the East Midlands and the England score of 99.9.
Crime worsened by 1.1 point between 2015-2020, largely driven by an increase in personal crime by 7.4 points. However the data showed a massive swing in the score with a low of 96.2 in 2018 before a steep climb back to 104.2 in 2020.
A balance of improvements in cancer screening but a worsening in child vaccination coverage saw health protection measures improve by 1.9 points between 2015 and 2020, taking it out of the bottom 40% of local authorities.
The lowest scores were around disability, distance to GP services and distance to leisure facilities.
Lincoln’s health score has improved by 6 points compared to 2019, however the authority was left with an overall value of 84.8.
The strongest scores were for physical health conditions like cancer, diabetes, and liver disease.The authority scored 109.5 in 2020 compared to 102.9 in 2019.
It also scored well for access to services which includes distances to GPs, leisure facilities and internet access. Despite in-person services being limited during the pandemic the city had a score of 102.5 compared to 96 for the East Midlands and 100 for England.
Despite scoring higher than the national average for access to private green space the authority was still in the bottom 40% of local authorities across England.
Its biggest improvement was in health relating to living conditions. A decrease in air pollution and rough sleeping saw the area move from the bottom 15% into the bottom 25% between 2019-2020 – the fifth greatest improvement across all of England.
The lowest indicators for the area were around disability, suicides and feelings of anxiety.
North Kesteven’s score decreased by 2.5 points in 2020 leaving it with an overall health score of 116.0.
The best score was in relation to living conditions with 125.3 – a 6.4 point increase on 2019.
A worsening of personal and low-level crime, however, saw the overall crime score decrease by 5.1 points between 2015-2020. The authority went from being among the top 4% to the top 15%. The score, however, was still the second best category in the area and higher than England or the East Midlands in general.
North Kesteven also took top spot in the East Midlands for the amount of access to private green space residents have, scoring 113.6 compared to a regional average of 105.2. The authority sits in the top 5% nationally.
The area’s score for preventative measures around cancer and child vaccination was also in the top 15% in England but saw a small reduction in the last year to 113.3 mainly driven by worsening child vaccination coverage.
Only three of the authority’s indicators scored below 90 compared to 2015, they were workplace safety, distance to sports and leisure facilities and feelings of anxiety.
South Holland’s health index score increased by 2.7 points in 2020 resulting in an overall score of 101.7.
Its strongest category was living conditions with a 2020 score of 115.4 being nearly 6 points higher than 2019.
The area also scored highly for the amount of private green space its residents had access to, appearing in the top 5% of authorities in England with a score of 105.2.
Similar to others the area saw a dip in crime around 2018 before rising again for 2020. Its overall score was down by 3.8 points since 2015 to sit at 106.2 in 2022, knocking it out of the top 20% best local authorities. The change was mostly driven by an increase in personal crime.
Personal well being, which looks at happiness, life satisfaction, and belief that activities are worthwhile saw an increase in the number of people feeling anxious, resulting in a score drop to 106.0 in 2020. However, with scores in this area dropping in general nationwide, South Holland now sits in the top 10% nationally.
In general low scorers were around feelings of anxiety, distance to sports or leisure facilities and the percentage of people who have dementia.
South Kesteven’s health index score was described as “relatively stable” by the ONS with a 2020 tally of 106.6, up by just 0.3 points.
The best score across all subdomains was 117.1 for health relating to “living conditions” – an increase of 6.2 points on 2019.
Access to private green space was high scoring, reaching 111.5 in 2020 and putting the authority in the top 10% across the whole of England.
Protective measures such as cancer screening and child vaccination improved by 4.4 points in the five years between 2015-20 reaching a high of 110.3 and putting it in the top 30%. The main increase was in cancer screening but child vaccination decreased slightly.
South Kesteven’s mortality rate improved between 2015 and 2020 increasing from 104.9 to 110.0 due to a decrease in infant mortality and improvements in life expectancy. SKDC was among the best 25%.
The lowest scores in the authority were around disabilities, the feeling that activities are worthwhile and the number of new sexually transmitted infections.
West Lindsey District Council
West Lindsey had an overall Health Index score of 104.2 – down 3.2 points compared with the previous year.
Its best score was 128.0 for health relating to “living conditions”.
Meanwhile, the authority sat in the top 20% of authorities for residents’ access to private garden space The authority reported a score of 110.0 compared to the East Midlands at 105.2, and England at 99.9.
Crime in West Lindsey reached a low of 102.3 in 2018 before rising to 109.3 in 2020. The final figure is a 0.7 point drop on 2015. West Lindsey went from being among the best 25% of local authority areas to the best 40% with changes largely driven by improvements in low-level and personal crime.
The health index for protective measures around cancer screening and child vaccination saw a decline by 0.9 points between 2015-2020. The authority scored 107.0 in 2020 taking it from the top 30% to the top 40% of local authorities. Again the change was largely driven by a worsening of child vaccination coverage.
Disability, internet access and distance to GP services were the lowest scorers.
North Lincolnshire saw an increase of 1.6 points in its health index score in 2020 with a final tally of 97.8.
North Lincolnshire’s score of 109.6 for “access to green space” puts it in the top 20% of local authorities.
Despite being the second highest scorer, the value of “protective measures” worsened by 3.1 points in the five years between 2015 and 2020. North Lincolnshire went from being in the top 40% to being close to average across England with the change largely driven by a worsening in child vaccinations.
North Lincolnshire’s Health Index value for “crime” improved by 10.8 points between 2019 and 2020. The authority went from being among the worst 20% to being among the worst 40% with changes largely driven by improvements in low-level and personal crime.
Its lowest indicators, however, were around obesity, disabilities and residents’ feelings of anxiety.
North East Lincolnshire
North East Lincolnshire has an overall Health Index score of 93.0, which is down 0.8 points compared with the previous year.
The strongest values were around residents’ access to private green space with a score of 114.5.
Meanwhile, North East Lincolnshire’s score for living conditions improved from 100.6 in 2015 to 110.6 in 2020 resulting in the area going from the bottom 40% to average across England.
Between 2015 and 2020, the score for “protective measures” around cancer screenings and child vaccination went from 110.3 to 105.4. The decrease was mainly driven by worse numbers of child vaccination.
However, the authority’s score for health relating to “access to services” was better than the score for England as a whole. The authority was valued at 101.5 compared to 100.2 for the Yorkshire and Humber region and 100.0 for England.
The worst scores were around the levels of obesity, disability and sexually transmitted diseases.