Census data, released on the 19th of January and carried out in March 2021 during ‘lockdown’, shows that Oxford remains a healthy city. 87.0% of Oxford’s population have the highest levels of health, with 54.8% of Oxford’s residents having ‘very good’ health and 32.2% with ‘good’ health.
This is broadly similar to the last census, which was taken just over a decade ago, in 2011, with 55.2% of Oxford’s population having ‘very good’ health and 31.7% having ‘good’ health.
Here data shows just a minor decrease in ‘very good’ health (0.4% difference), but a minor increase in ‘good’ health (0.5% increase). This highlights that, on balance, Oxford is consistently maintaining high levels.
Nevertheless, major health inequalities exist within Oxfordshire with 10 of Oxford’s 83 neighbourhoods classified as among the most deprived in the country. Councillor Shaista Aziz (Cabinet Member for Inclusive Communities) commented that “despite Oxford being a relatively healthy city, there are inequalities and health inequalities across the city that have become more profound since the Covid pandemic. Those who live in the very poorest parts of the city die, on average, up to a decade earlier than those in the very wealthiest parts. This is unacceptable and has to change”.
Oxford City Council has taken steps to address this, with local health providers and community groups established to tackle any remaining health inequalities in the area and to improve the health of all residents.
In particular, they are investing in indoor and outdoor activities. This includes free access to some public swimming pools for under-16s and free entry to leisure centres for the homeless. Also, they run the Go Active programmes for Oxford’s older population and mothers, as well as a Youth Ambition programme which seeks to promote sports during school term time and the holidays.
Furthermore, the Oxford City Council strives to spend almost half a million pounds to better support the city’s community charities and groups.
Indeed, for Oxford’s residents with disabilities, the newest data exposes that 4.9% of the population were being severely impacted in day-to-day activities, and 9.6% were badly impacted, but to a slightly lesser extent, exposing the need for greater progress.
Nonetheless, the City Council’s work seems to be making an impact as census data illustrates that just 0.7% of Oxford’s population were in the category constituting ‘very bad’ health. This is a 0.2% decrease from the last report, which indicated that 0.9% of residents fell in the lowest category.
Likewise, merely 9.7% of residents said they had ‘fair’ health, and 2.6% with ‘bad’ health, fairly similar statistics to that of the past decade.
Oxford’s local leaders, since 2011, have definitely made strides in trying to uphold and improve the city’s welfare. Compared to other cities nationwide, Oxford ranks highly and prides itself in offering a great quality of life to a vast majority of its population.