NEW figures have placed Shetland at the top of the list nationally when it comes to life expectancy for people born between 2016 and 2018.
The Shetland health board area has the highest overall life expectancy in Scotland for women at 83.4 years – although it has one of the lowest levels of ‘life in good health’ (58.4 years).
For males, the Shetland health board area has the highest overall life expectancy at 79.5 years and the greatest proportion of ‘life in good health’ at 67.5 years.
NHS Shetland public health consultant Dr Susan Laidlaw said the health board welcomed the figures.
But she said the NHS “cannot be complacent with having the highest life expectancies in Scotland – we need to ensure that people have as many years as possible in good health”.
When the figures are calculated by council area, Shetland ranks third on the list for both males and females.
Under this system, East Renfrewshire and East Dunbartonshire overtake the isles for men and women.
Shetland appears to buck the national trend when it comes to the rate of growth in life expectancy over the last number of years, with many areas in Scotland seeing their figures decrease.
Nationally life expectancy for those born in 2016-2018 was 77 years for males and 81.1 years for females.
Healthy life expectancy for those born at the same time was 61.9 years for males and 62.2 years for females.
Laidlaw said it is widely known that people in remote and rural areas tend to live longer compared to those in rural areas, “which is helped by the good quality of life and relative wealth for most (but by no means all) people in Shetland”.
“The life expectancy for women is higher, this is a consistent finding over time and across Scotland,” she added.
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Laidlaw said that the fact that 67.5 years of the male life expectancy figure would be spent in ‘good health’ is “not good, but better than the rest of Scotland”.
“For women the numbers are worse – Shetland women can expect to live to 83.4 years, but on average will spend 25 years in poor health – this is the worst in Scotland,” she said.
“However, all these figures do need to be treated with caution due to the relatively small size of the Shetland population.
“But it is concerning that the numbers suggest that, although women in Shetland can be expected to live long lives, they can also expect to spend up to a third of their life in poor health if nothing is done to change that.
“As well as the implications of this for individuals themselves, and the effect on their quality of life and impact on family and carers, there are also significant implications for the demand on health and care services.
“We cannot be complacent with having the highest life expectancies in Scotland, we need to ensure that people have as many years as possible in good health.”
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