Academics from the University of Plymouth have contributed to a major Government report highlighting the many and varied health challenges facing the UK’s coastal communities.
In the Chief Medical Officer’s Annual Report 2021, Professor Chris Whitty says that – despite the significant efforts of local leaders – these communities continue to have a high burden of health challenges across a range of physical and mental health conditions, often with lower life expectancy and higher rates of many major diseases.
To address this, he has recommended a cross-government national strategy to improve the health and wellbeing of coastal communities.The report has been developed over the past year and includes a chapter analysing the burden of disease and health service data at a granular level, written by Professor of Health Policy Sheena Asthana and Senior Research Fellow Dr Alex Gibson.
This presents compelling evidence that coastal communities experience a significantly higher burden of disease than their non-coastal counterparts and that this is over and above the level of prevalence that can be explained by socio-economic factors and demography.
There are also particularly worrying trends in public health-related outcomes for children and young people, with the authors saying that policy needs to recognise, understand and respond to the particular circumstances that have resulted in this excess coastal morbidity.
The report is the latest written by Professor Asthana and Dr Gibson, who have spent almost two decades raising concerns about the allocation of funding for the NHS and other English public services.