A number of important factors about Torrington and surrounding areas must be taken into account when planning future health services – in particular the age-mix of the population and the rural nature of the district.
Data published from the 2011 census shows Torrington’s population profile (the red bars) is significantly older than the national average, particularly over the age of retirement.
Conversely, Torrington has far fewer people of school and working age than the national average.
Between 2011 and 2031, Torridge’s population is set to grow by 16% and the age profile of the population is expected to change dramatically, especially in the oldest age groups. A high level of growth is projected among all those of pensionable age, with a 38% increase in those aged 65-74, 82% in those aged 75-84, and 119% in those aged 85-plus.
The table below summarises the projected change in the population of Torridge by age band, 2011-2031, in thousands
Source: Profile on Torridge, Torridge District Council, May 2013
Another key issue facing residents of the Torrington area is the impact of rural isolation, as it is one of the more rural communities in the county. There is evidence that rural isolation impacts on health, wellbeing and access to services. For example a hospital outpatient appointment in Barnstaple for someone from the Torrington area can mean a whole day away from home. Yet the appointment itself might last just a quarter of an hour.
The overall health of people in Torridge is generally better than the England average. The 2012 Health Profile for Torridge, produced by the Department of Health, also shows that:
- While deprivation is lower than average, about 1,800 children live in poverty
- Life expectancy for both men and women is higher than the England average
- Life expectancy is 4.6 years lower for men in the most-deprived areas of Torridge than in the least-deprived areas
- The most-deprived areas are in outlying areas, rather than in Torrington itself
- Over the last 10 years, all-cause mortality rates have fallen. Early death rates from cancer and from heart disease and stroke have fallen and are better than the England average
- About 16.5% of Year 6 children are classified as obese
- The level of GCSE attainment is worse than the England average
- Levels of teenage pregnancy and smoking in pregnancy are better than the England
- The estimated levels of diabetes and adult obesity are both significantly worse than the England average
- Rates of sexually-transmitted infections, road injuries and deaths, smoking-related deaths and hospital stays for alcohol-related harm, are better than the England average