Oxford remains a healthy city – new data

Published: Friday, 20th January 2023

Oxford remains a healthy city, new Census data has shown.

The data, released yesterday (19/1) by the Office for National Statistics, found that 87% of Oxford residents reported they were in “good” or “very good” health – broadly the same as the last Census a decade ago.

The Census was carried out in March 2021 when a ‘stay at home’ rule was in place due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Residents’ health

The new data showed that 54.8% of Oxford residents reported they were in “very good” health (88,767 people) and 32.2% were in “good” health (52,154) – with a combined total of 87.0% in either “good” or “very good” health (140,921).

Just 9.7% of residents said they were in “fair” health (15,703), 2.6% in “bad” health (4,221) and 0.7% in “very bad” health (1,194).

This is broadly the same as the data from the 2011 Census, which found that 55.2% were in “very good” health, 31.7% in “good” health, 9.4% in “fair” health, 2.8% in “bad” health and 0.9% in “very bad” health.

Oxford has an unusually young population due to the number of students in the city (the median age is 31). When comparing the city’s data to county-wide and UK-wide averages, it is therefore important to use age standardised data. This allows for populations with different age profiles to be compared.

When this is done, Oxford is shown to be marginally less healthy than Oxfordshire residents as a whole – 83.4% of Oxford residents report “good” or “very good” health, compared to 85.5% of Oxfordshire residents – but more healthy than the average for England, which saw 81.7% report “good or “very good” health.

Residents with disabilities

The new data found that the number of people impacted by disability in Oxford has increased slightly over the last decade – from 18,851 in 2011 to 23,491 in 2021.

In 2021, 4.9% of Oxford residents had “day-to-day activities limited a lot” by disability (7,912 people) and 9.6% had “day-to-day activities limited a little” (15,579). This compares to 5.4% (8,139) and 7.1% (10,712), respectively, in 2011.

When standardised for age, the data shows that Oxford has more residents limited by disability “a little” or “a lot” (16.4%) than Oxfordshire as a whole (14.8%), but less than the average for England (17.7%).

The new data also showed that 71.0% of Oxford households include no disabled people (39,213 households), 23.1% included one disabled person (12,746) and 5.9% included two or more disabled people (3,281).

Unpaid care

The number of people who provide unpaid care in Oxford has decreased by 1,435 over the last decade – from 11,725 in 2011 to 10,290 in 2021.

Of those who provide unpaid care, the number who provide 19 hours or less has fallen (from 69.6% in 2011 to 56.0% in 2021), while the number who provide 20-to-49 hours of unpaid care a week (12.5% to 19.3%) and the number who provide 50 or more hours a week (17.9% to 24.7%) have both increased.

These figures may have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. The Census took place in March 2021, a ‘stay at home’ rule was in place.

Oxford City Council

Oxford City Council, in partnership with health providers and community groups, carries out a wide range of work to help residents improve their health and to tackle health inequalities across the city.

Ten of Oxford’s 83 neighbourhood areas are amongst the most deprived in the country. In these areas people die up to a decade earlier than those living in the wealthiest parts of the city.

The City Council’s work includes providing:

  • Discounted rates at Oxford’s three leisure centres, ice rink and outdoor swimming pool for those on lower incomes
  • Free swimming for those aged 16 and under at Oxford’s four swimming pools
  • Free access to leisure centres for those experience homelessness
  • Health provision at Barton, an early pregnancy unit at Rose Hill and a wide range of activities – including sport, dance and preventative health sessions – across all 19 of the City Council’s community centres
  • A Go Active programme to help residents stay active, including health walks, jogging groups and groups for mothers, older people and those with diabetes
  • A Youth Ambition programme, including regular youth clubs and sports sessions year-round, and summer activities during the school holidays
  • A Community Champions programme to better understand and help tackle underlying health inequality across the city; and working with Oxford’s health providers to work with residents to find community solutions
  • Almost half a million pounds of funding to support Oxford’s community groups and charities, including those that provide disability support, youth activities and support with healthy eating
  • Dozens of playgrounds, allotments, parks and open spaces across Oxford

Councillor Shaista Aziz, Cabinet Member for Inclusive Communities, said: “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.

“The City Council’s work is focussed on addressing inequalities and health inequality across the city by providing accessible and affordable health and leisure facilities in communities for people and families across the city.”