Lambeth considers blood pressure checks at food banks as life expectancy falls

Lambeth Town Hall in Brixton (photo: Google Street View)
Lambeth Town Hall in Brixton (photo: Google Street View)

Officials are considering checking people’s blood pressure at food banks after life expectancy in a South London borough plummeted to the lowest level in a decade.

Lambeth health experts warned the drop couldn’t be fully explained by the Covid-19 pandemic and said levels of heart disease in the borough were a problem.

A boy born in Lambeth in 2020 could expect to live to the age of 77, three years less than one born in 2019.

The average newborn girl could expect to reach the age of 83 in 2020, two years less than in 2019.

Life expectancy in Lambeth for men is now at the lowest levels since 2009 and the lowest for women since 2010.

The grim figures were revealed in Lambeth Council’s 2022 borough health profile.

The Labour-led council will now look into offering blood pressure checks and diabetes checks at food banks, following a suggestion by Liberal Democrat Cllr Donna Harris at a Health committee on September 22.

Cllr Harris, member for Streatham Hill West and Thornton, mooted the idea during a discussion about efforts to improve life expectancy in the borough with Ruth Hutt, Lambeth’s director of public health.

Cllr Harris said: “Having been to work at one of the food hubs recently, is it something that you’re considering putting blood pressure checks and maybe diabetes checks in places like that? [It] could be very easily done, especially when people don’t necessarily go to the GP if they’re going there because they need food. It could be something worthwhile putting there.”

Ruth Hutt said the council was trying to get more men, particularly black men, to have blood pressure checks to reduce cardiovascular deaths in the borough.

She said: “We have seen a decrease in life expectancy, healthy life expectancy. Some of that is put down to Covid which is certainly right but there is also more than that can just be explained by Covid.

“We are doing quite a lot of work at the moment to focus on one of the main contributors to that which is around cardiovascular disease, so a lot of work in the borough targeting blood pressure checks – particularly in the black male community where people are more perhaps more reluctant to come forward, less likely to seek health advice.”

A Lambeth health scrutiny committee on Thursday, September 22 said it would consider whether blood pressure and diabetes checks could be carried out in food banks following Cllr Harris’s suggestion.

Have you got a story for us? You can contact us here.

Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to keep up with all the latest news.

Sign up to our newsletters to get updates sent straight to your inbox.