Ex-pit area health problems continue

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COALFIELD communities still face significant health issues decades after the pit closures, new research has shown.

A Durham University study shows that health problems and long-term limiting illnesses, such as chronic arthritis, asthma and back problems, are significantly more likely in some of these areas.

However, some less deprived former coalfield areas are faring relatively well.

Researchers say regeneration efforts and the resilience of local communities may be helpful for health and wellbeing, as well as for the economy and jobs.

Co-author Prof Sarah Curtis said: “Coalfield areas vary considerably and it’s essential that Government policy recognises the different levels of support that are needed and helps the areas with greatest need.

“Some mining communities have struggled and need more assistance, whilst others have fared quite well, demonstrating considerable resilience in the wake of the huge job losses that affected these regions.

“A lot can be learnt from the success stories and regeneration schemes that have worked well. It will be helpful to share knowledge about the conditions fostering that success.”

The research, carried out by Durham University’s Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience, the Dalhousie University, Canada, and Teesside University, surveyed 26,100 people nationally, including 4,750 from 55 coalfield areas, asking them to self-rate their health.

People in the coalfield areas were 27 per cent more likely to report having a limiting long-term illness.