Page last updated at 06:23 GMT, Thursday, 28 August 2008 07:23 UK

GP explains life expectancy gap

Calton graffiti
Dr Jamieson said the health figures reflected Calton's problems

A Glasgow GP has reacted to a World Health Organisation report which highlighted a 28-year gap in life expectancy around the Glasgow area.

For 21-years Robert Jamieson has been a GP in Calton, which the report says has an average male life expectancy of 54.

This is in contrast to nearby Lenzie, East Dunbartonshire, where the figure rises to 82.

Dr Jamieson said the statistics reflected the "chronic" social and medical problems that affect Calton.

He told BBC Scotland that the figures quoted in the WHO report had been known in Scotland for some time.

"In Abercromby Street, where my practice is, the average male life expectancy is about 53 years old," he said.

"There is a high incidence of mental illness like depression, which leads to a number of organic problems.

One of the postal sectors here has the lowest income in the UK. That means people have less money to spend on basics like food, clothes and travel to work
Dr Robert Jamieson
Bridgeton Health Centre

"It's not surprising that we see more cases of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, asthma and bronchitis than areas like Lenzie."

Dr Jamieson said the reasons behind the deep-rooted health problems in Calton were numerous and complex but poverty played a major part.

"One of the postal sectors here has the lowest income in the UK," he said.

"That means people have less money to spend on basics like food, clothes and travel to work.

"This is made worse by other social problems like poor housing and community safety.

"The area also has serious problems with gang and knife culture, and of course drug and alcohol abuse, which are colossal contributors to early death."

Lasting change

Dr Jamieson believes that breaking this cycle won't be easy and requires action from individuals as well as a "top-down" approach from central and local government.

But he has seen reasons for hope and believes lasting change can be achieved.

He said: "Over the last two or three years we've had more and more patients asking for help to stop smoking.

"That's great and we do all we can to help, but there are other things which government can do.

"In recent times we have dealt with advertising of cigarettes and then with smoking in public places.

"But I believe that advertising for alcohol and junk-food should also be tackled."

Dr Jamieson said these multi-million pound industries were giving people "false information" about products which are detrimental to their health.

"If we can get more genuine information about food which helps people make better choices then we're a step closer to real change."

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