top of page

Health issues affecting residents in the Black Country?

What are the most prevalent health issues affecting residents in the Black Country? 

In early 2020, the UK Government announced that the country would lock down as COVID-19 spread rapidly around the globe. This would go on to affect millions of lives and the UK is still facing the long-term consequences of the pandemic. The NHS is understaffed and overworked, there is a growing backlog of medical procedures and there are long wait times for a GP appointment. With the number of people projected to be living with a health condition on the rise and the population gradually increasing, this has led to an increased demand for health services. For disadvantaged groups, who are more likely to experience poorer health and challenges accessing healthcare, this has exposed and made existing health inequalities worse. 

Health Inequality 

Health inequalities are unfair and avoidable differences in health across the population, and between different groups within society. - NHS England 

Health inequalities in the UK are growing and are more likely to be experienced by people in deprived areas who are unemployed, have a lower income or come from an ethnic background. These inequalities can start at an early age and grow and change throughout the human lifecycle, resulting in limited access to healthcare, being unable to afford private healthcare and taking more health-related risks such as smoking. 

Health in the Black Country 

The Black Country experiences some of the highest deprivation rates in England and has the second most deprived integrated care system in the country. With 1.26 million residents, 50.2% male and 49.8% female, the life expectancy in the Black Country for males is 77 years and 82 years for females. This is slightly lower than the national life expectancy of 79 years for males and 83 years for females.

Some of the most prevalent health issues affecting Black Country residents are long term health conditions, such as high blood pressure, kidney disease, heart disease, cancer and respiratory illnesses (for example, lung cancer and pneumonia). Additionally, the number of people with diabetes is higher than anywhere else in England. 

Nationally, there is a recognised correlation between higher infant mortality rates and deprivation. The Black Country has some of the highest infant mortality rates in the country, while smoking rates in pregnancy remain high. 

The pandemic has also drawn attention to mental health inequalities. Anxiety has increased significantly in the West Midlands - in 2020, 47.9% of people reported high levels of anxiety compared to a 2019 average of 21.9%. There were found to be higher rates of psychosis and mental health admissions in the Black Country compared to the average rate in England, along with a higher proportion of people subject to the Mental Health Act. As people with mental health problems and learning disabilities have shorter life expectancies (18 years for males, 15 years for females), the need for support is crucial. 

The Cause

The prevalence of these health conditions can be due to multiple causes. Heavy alcohol consumption, smoking, poor diet and lack of exercise are some of the key contributing factors in poor health. Being physically active can help you live a longer and healthier life. In the Black Country, both child (9.1% higher) and adult (7.7% higher) obesity rates are higher than national. Physical activity levels are also lower, with 35.9% of adults doing less than 30 weekly minutes of moderate intensity activity. It is proven that people who exercise regularly have a lower risk of developing many long-term, chronic conditions. 

However, it is clear that this shift cannot take place without a reduction in the health inequality gap. People need support and access to services so they can lead a longer life and have a healthier lifestyle. 

How can Make More help?

Often, people want to make positive changes to improve their health, such as being more active, but are not supported to do so and feel powerless to make positive changes.

At Make More we are committed to helping improve health in the Black Country, closing the health inequality gap. Having partnered with Active Black Country, we’re hosting free fitness workshops for men and women to support them in their fitness journeys. 

Through health and wellbeing initiatives, we strive to bring people together, improving physical and mental wellbeing, encouraging social inclusion, and bringing communities together.


Reference list

Active Partnerships (2023). Addressing health inequalities in the Black Country | Active Partnerships. [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 Jun. 2024].

Black Country Integrated Care System (n.d.). The people we serve :: Black Country ICS. [online] Available at:

Guttridge, R. (2022). Mapped - The most deprived areas to live in the West Midlands. [online] BirminghamLive. Available at:

Guttridge, R. (2023). The condition which affects more people in the West Midlands than anywhere else. [online] Birmingham Live. Available at: [Accessed 5 Jun. 2024].

Health and Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee (2021). Scrutiny Inquiry: Infant Mortality. [online] Birmingham : City Council. Available at:

Healthier Futures (n.d.). Health challenges :: Black Country ICS. [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 Jun. 2024].

NHS (2021). Benefits of Exercise. [online] NHS. Available at:

NHS Black Country (n.d.). The people we serve :: Black Country ICB. [online] Available at:

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council (2023). Better Mental Health Strategy: Consultation survey - Sandwell Council - Citizen Space. [online] Available at:

Singleton, A. (2022). Major study outlines wide health inequalities in England. [online] Available at:

The British Medical Association is the trade union and professional body for doctors in the UK. (2023). COVID-19: Impact of the pandemic on healthcare delivery. [online] Available at:

The King's Fund (2024). Health inequalities in a nutshell. [online] The King’s Fund. Available at:

The West Midlands Mental Health Commission (2023). West Midlands Mental Health Commission 2022-23 Final Report. [online] Available at:

Watt, T., Raymond, A. and Rachet-Jacquet, L. (2022). Quantifying health inequalities in England. [online] Available at:

West Midlands Combined Authority (2020). Health of the Region 2020 Addressing health and wellbeing inequalities and the impacts of COVID-19 in the West Midlands. [online] Available at:

West Midlands Secure Data Environment (n.d.). Black Country ICS. [online] West Midlands Secure Data Environment. Available at: [Accessed 5 Jun. 2024].

WMCA (n.d.). Section 1 - Health and health inequalities in the West Midlands region. [online] Available at:

bottom of page