Hartlepool singled out by Professor Chris Whitty over impact of Covid as he calls for action over health of coastal towns

Hartlepool has been singled out as one of the coastal towns which has seen the impact of Covid hit it the hardest in an annual report by Professor Chris Whitty.

By Fiona Thompson
Wednesday, 21st July 2021, 12:10 am

England’s chief medical officer has recommended a cross-government national strategy to improve the health and wellbeing of coastal communities, warning serious health challenges must be tackled by the Government or they will “get worse”.

It found those in coastal communities face lower life expectancies and higher rates of many major diseases compared to people in inland areas.

It comes after the Government’s levelling up agenda was introduced, which aims to invest billions in projects including in seaside towns such Hartlepool

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Chief Medical Officer for England Chris Whitty, pictured during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus, has issued a report raising concerns about health inequalities in coastal towns, including Hartlepool.

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Coastal areas in the North East, particularly Hartlepool, have seen high rates of coronavirus compared to the rest of the country, leading to a negative impact on the local economy, the report says.

Prof Whitty’s report, Health in Coastal Communities, found seaside communities have 14.6% fewer postgraduate medical trainees, 15% fewer consultants and 7.4% fewer nurses per patient than the national average.

They have an oversupply of cheap guest housing and houses of multiple occupation (HMOs) which encourages the migration of vulnerable people, often with certain health needs.

Other findings include older, retirees with increasing health problems often settle in coastal regions, with transport more difficult in those areas.

Prof Whitty said: “Coastal areas are some of the most beautiful, vibrant and historic places in the country.

“They also have some of the worst health outcomes with low life expectancy and high rates of many major diseases.

“These communities have often been overlooked by governments and the ill-health hidden because their outcomes are merged with wealthier inland areas.

“A national strategy informed by local leaders and experts will help reduce inequalities and preventable ill health.

“If we do not tackle the health problems of coastal communities vigorously and systematically there will be a long tail of preventable ill health which will get worse as current populations age.”

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said he welcomed the report and would consider its recommendations.

He added: “Those living in coastal areas clearly face different sets of challenges to those inland but everybody, no matter where they live, should have similar opportunities in education, housing, employment and health.

“We are committed to levelling up across the nation.”

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