FRESH plans have been put forward in a bid to cut vast health inequalities and life expectancy across south east Essex.

The new ‘Locality Strategy’ aims to streamline healthcare services in an attempt to eliminate the huge variations which have resulted in a 20-year gap between the highest and lowest life expectancy levels.

Currently, a man in Southend’s Kursaal Ward will on average live to the age of 73 but a woman in Hockley West may live to 94.

The strategy, put forward by NHS Southend Clinical Commissioning Group, states: “In simple terms the system as it is currently operating is no longer fit for purpose. It does not work collaboratively across itself, or with the public it serves, to make best use of the assets that is has at its disposal. The way it currently operates is not operationally or financially sustainable and simple projections of population growth compared to statutory funding increases shows that this challenge is only going to grow.”

It is proposed the region is divided into eight “localities” so services can focus on specific issues within certain areas.

These will comprise of Rochford, Rayleigh, Benfleet and Hadleigh, Southend West, Southend West Central, Southend East Central, Southend East and Canvey. Each has a population of about 40,000.

The new strategy compares the expected outcome of the new plans to the Southend 2050 plan, which provides a blueprint for how the borough will develop over the next 32 years.

Dr Jose Garcia Lobera, a GP and Chair of NHS Southend CCG, said: “It is no secret that more people are living longer and the type of care that people want and need is changing.

“We recognise an opportunity to improve things and want to work together with local people and give everyone the opportunity to be involved so that we can find local solutions that matter for the people living in the area.”

Southend’s Health and Wellbeing Board will meet tomorrow to discuss the plan.

Lesley Salter, Southend Council cabinet member for healthy communities, said: “Communities are increasingly complex and so are the challenges they face. We want to listen and learn about any opportunities to collectively tackle unique challenges.”