Page last updated at 11:47 GMT, Friday, 31 October 2008

Cash to bridge county health gap

Stethoscope
NHS bosses pledged to tackle the source of health problems

People in Clackmannanshire are to be offered personal support workers in a bid to bridge the health divide between rich and poor in the county.

Figures show Clackmannanshire has the highest death rates from heart disease, cancer and stroke in the Forth Valley.

Life expectancy for men in the county is 73.4, nearly four years earlier than their neighbours in Stirling.

The 600,000 two-year scheme, funded by the Scottish Government, will be run by NHS Forth Valley and the local council.

The programme will also try to tackle substance use and smoking by encouraging locals to take a more active role in looking after their own health.

A recent survey in Clackmannanshire showed that only 30% of households eat the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables per day.

'Best opportunity'

Wide variations in smoking rates were also discovered with only 14.4% of people smoking in the more affluent town of Dollar compared with nearly 37% in Alloa south and east.

NHS Forth Valley said those over the age of 18 who have health risks will be identified through their GP and fast-tracked to a range of services, including personal support workers, smoking cessation clinics and weight management services.

The move follows a pilot in Tullibody where anticipatory care like health checks and cheap fruit and vegetables were offered to those at a high risk of developing health problems.

Kathy O'Neill, general manager of Clackmannanshire Community Health Partnership, said: "The programme will specifically try to lend intensive support to people and give them the best opportunity to stay in good health and improve the quality of their lives.

"This is an exciting new way of working, bringing together the experience of health professionals, and voluntary and community projects to provide the best possible local services for people."

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