The modern medicine is characterized by the implementation of new technologies and significant scientific achievements that provide ample opportunities to provide people with health care services of the highest quality. In such a situation the quality of health services and their accessibility to all people become the major priorities of the national health care system of the UK. At the same time, it is necessary to underline that this strategic direction in the development of the national health care should be realized not only on the national level but also on the regional and local level as well. Otherwise, the effectiveness of the existing national health care programs would not be low.
In this respect, it is possible to dwell upon the current situation at the Park Ward area in order to evaluate the major trends in the heath care system of the local community and evaluate the influences of the local population and local socio-economic influences on the health of the local population and health services delivered to people in the area. In such a way, it will be possible to clearly define the interrelatedness between influences of the local population, its socio-economic development on health care services, their quality and effectiveness in the area.
Obviously the analysis of the current situation in the Park Ward area is really important because the analysis of the development of the local health care services can help understand the realization of the national strategies of the development of the health care system on the local level. At the same time, the analysis of the current situation in the health care system in the Park Ward area will also reveal the major trends that are typical for the local health care system at the moment. This is why, in terms of this paper, it is necessary to focus on such issues as the life expectancy which can help objectively assess the effectiveness of the functioning of the local health care system since the higher the life expectancy is the better the health care system functions and, vice versa, if the life expectancy is low than the effectiveness of the local health care system is low too. Consequently, the analysis of the changes in the life expectancy in last few years will also show the major changes, either positive or negative, in the functioning of the local health care system. Also, it is necessary to discuss the major diseases and major problems of the local health care system in order to define the areas which need the improvement. After that it will be necessary to analyze the influences that affect the health of the local population and the local health care system at large. At this point it is necessary to focus on socio-economic and demographic issues and their influence. In such a way, it will be possible to define the major causes of the existing problems and, therefore, through their elimination solve these problems.
The situation in the local health care services
Speaking about the current situation in the Park Ward area health care services, it should be said that, in a way, the existing trends may be viewed as typical for an average British community. Nevertheless, the development of the local health care services should be viewed as a part of the realization of the national strategy of the development of health care services.
In fact, the current situation in the Park Ward area may be said as relatively good compared to the neighboring areas. In this respect, it is possible to refer to the image 1 (Reading Health Profile 2007), which reveals the percentage of people with poor health:
Image 1. Percentage of people whose general health was not good
In such a way, the percentage of the population with poor health in the area does not exceed 7.5% while, basically, the general statistics tends to 6.5% of people with poor health. This may be viewed as good results compared to the areas where the percentage of people whose general health is defined as not good exceeds 8%.
The similar trends are typical to the long-term illnesses. To put it more precisely, the percentage of people with the long-term illnesses in the Park Ward area is relatively low compared to the neighbouring areas (Image 2).
At the same time, it should be said that the general percentage of people with long-term illnesses exceeds 10%. In practice, this means that these people need permanent health care services delivered to them in time, in sufficient amount, and naturally of the possibly higher quality. It should be said that there exists a considerable part of people with limiting long-term illnesses which are not working. The latter fact is very important since this implies that the local health care system should pay a particular attention to these people because they apparently cannot afford their treatment without the state and public support (Hampshire, 2000, p.19). Moreover, they can hardly have medical insurance which they could pay for because they do not have a job and, therefore, they do not have a stable income.
However, this is only the part of the problem the local health care system is facing. It is necessary to underline that the life expectancy may be viewed as an important indicator of the quality and effectiveness of the health care services delivered to the local population. In this respect, it is possible to refer to the image 3 (Reading Health Profile 2007), where the life expectancy changes are represented:
This graph provides and opportunity to compare the recent trends in the region, Reading and in England at large that is very important for the understanding of the objective dynamic of the development of local life expectancy trends in comparison to the national trends. On analyzing the graph, it is possible to estimate, that the life expectancy trends in Reading and, therefore, in the Park Ward area, are quite disturbing. In fact, the life expectancy steadily grows on the national level among both males and females, while in Reading in the period from 2000 to 2001 there was a slow down and even a slight decrease in the life-expectancy (Hamshire, 2000, p.19). The fact is disturbing because it does not meet the national trends and indicates to the existing problems in the local health care system which cannot maintain the high level of the health of the local population compared to the general situation in England. As for the higher level of the life expectancy among females compared to males this trend is similar to the national trends and is quite natural.
In order to better understand the actual reasons for the slow growth and even slight decrease of the life expectancy in 2000-2001 and to reveal the direct dependence of this trend to the current situation in the health care services, it is necessary to discuss the major diseases that increase the mortality of the local population and the trends that are typical for these diseases in the region compared to the national level. In this respect it is possible to refer to the image 4 and image 5 (Reading Health Profile 2007) that shows death rates from cancer, heart disease and stroke:
In fact, the graphs basically explain the major causes of the decreasing life expectancy in the early 2000. To put it more precisely, the graphs prove the fact that the death rates from cancer and heart disease and stroke in late 1990s – early 2000s increased that naturally contributed to the slow down and even decrease of the general life expectancy in the region at large and in the Park Ward in particular. And again the trends in the region contradict to the national trends. In other words, the death rates in Reading and, therefore, in the Park Ward are higher at the moment for death rates from heart disease and stroke and approach the national death rates from cancer, while in the past they were consistently lower. What is even more disturbing is the fact that in late1990s – early 2000s the death rates started to grow (Blamey, 2002, p.142). Even though at the moment death rates started to decrease, it is obvious that local and regional trends are less positive than the trends on the national level since the death rates from cancer, heart diseases and stroke in England have been decreasing steadily since the mid-1990s (Rainer, 2006, p.263). In such a way, the death rates from cancer, heart diseases and stroke reveal the low effectiveness of the local health care system since it proves to be unable to decrease death rates from these diseases at such a scale as the national health care system does.
In fact, the current situation concerning the health of the local population may be briefly described in the following chart:
Image 6. Health summary for Reading (Reading Health Profile 2007)
On analyzing this chart, which is basically similar to the current situation in the Park Ward area, reveals the fact that the health of children and the health care services targeting the treatment of children and prevention of diseases among this category of people are insufficient and need to be improved. To put it more precisely, along with such problems as children’s tooth decay, which is substantially worse in Reading compared to an average level in England, there are also such problems as teenage pregnancy, which is more serious in Reading that average in England. The high infant death rates are also very disturbing since infant deaths rates should be minimized and, at least meet the national level. At the same time, there are also serious problems related to injuries received in the result of crime violence and drug misuse that is the result of the lack of cooperation of health care services, police, and social services (Huff and Kline, 2003, p.201). Finally, the problem of diabetes is also more serious in Reading compared to average in England.
Key influences on the health of the local population
Obviously, the existing health problems of the local population are, to a significant extent, determined by the local socio-economic factors, which deteriorate the health of the local population because they prevent people from receiving the high level of health care services. In this respect, it is possible to refer to the level of long-term illnesses the local population suffers from. The fact that the number of unemployed people suffering from such illnesses seems to be quite noteworthy since it proves the fact that the economically inactive people are more exposed to such illnesses and, what is even more important, they are less protected in face of such health problems because they cannot afford the treatment of their illnesses financially without state and public support (Blamey, 2002, p.115).
In this respect, it is possible to refer to the table 1 (Reading Ward Profile 2007) which demonstrates the level of long-term illnesses and state of health in the context of unpaid healthcare services delivered to the local population:
It should be said that the percentage of people that provide unpaid care is lower compared to the percentage of people that suffer from limiting long-term illnesses. This means that people that need permanently health care services and that cannot afford them financially do not receive these services because of the lack of people who actually provide unpaid health care services.
At the same time, it is possible to trace the link between the economic status of local people and the lack of health care services delivered to them. The table 2 (Reading Ward Profile 2007) shows the level of inactive and active population that actually explains the poor health of inactive population because, as the previous table shows, they cannot receive adequate unpaid care.
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that, basically, the general situation in the Park Ward area health care system is relatively good but the trends that demonstrate the death rates from various diseases, including cancer and heart disease and stroke, as well as the life expectancy rates are quite disturbing because the national trends are more positive compared to the local trends. Even though, statistically the health of the local population is close to average in England but, still, if the situation remains unchanged the health of the local population will deteriorate consistently and the statistics will be worse than on the national level.