Public health in Essex falling at a “horrendous decline”
General / Tue 21st Sep 2021 at 07:12am
PUBLIC health in Essex is falling at a “horrendous decline” with high rates of obesity, suicide and alcohol misuse, a doctor has said reports the Local Democracy Reporter.
Dr Mike Gogarty has set out that physical activity, weight management, alcohol and loneliness as key aspects that need addressing but also included concerns around substance abuse, sexual health and smoking.
He has been charged with developing strategic plans, identifying the ambitions and outcomes to which Essex County Council is committed for achievement by 2025 as part of its Public Health and Adult Social Care Priorities.
Dr Gogarty added he was not prepared to accept worsening health.
He told the Essex Health and Wellbeing Board (September 16): “Health inequalities are increasing. Things are getting worse in the population we serve.
“I am presiding over a horrendous decline in the health and well-being of certain parts of Essex. It is not something I am proud of and not something I am prepared to accept.
“We need to look at those wider determinates better – economic growth and jobs, education, lifelong learning, housing and accommodation and crime and community safety.
“We need to look at factors like increasing obesity in the whole population – two third of adults are overweight or obese.
“Mental health is horrendous.
“We have very high rates of suicide across Essex – the rates are higher than nationally.
“We have some places in Essex which are in the top 15 nationally and were until very recently in the top five.
“We have a very unwell, deconditioned population post Covid with high levels of alcohol misuse and lots of avoidable heart disease and diabetes.
“We have still have unacceptable but declining levels of smoking and poor sexual health behaviour.”
Essex County Council says by 2024 it wants to have increased the proportion of dependent drinkers accessing effective treatment from ten per cent to 20 per cent, which is above the Government’s recommendation of 15 per cent.
The authority also wants to have “continued to reduce the rate of increase in alcohol-related hospital admission to five per cent”.
What does the data say?
In Essex, there were 30,500 people admitted to hospital in 2018/19 – up 39 per cent in six years from 22,070 in 2012/2013.
Further work will be concentrated on tackling suicide – especially given Tendring and Colchester had some of the highest rates in England.
Office for National Statistics data has shown Essex had a higher rate of suicides than the national average in 2019.
It also shows Tendring to have the second highest rate in England and Colchester the third.
Dr Gogarty added the strategy to improve the county’s health will be based on community-led tactics.
He said: “It is broadly going to be around communities taking responsibility, taking control and allowing them to do it, building resilience, building very strong relationships, sharing vision, using an evidence based approach and really getting the most senior people signed up to this agenda.
He added: “One of the tricks here is to learn what has worked elsewhere and then how we translate that operationally and make that happen locally.
Maybe it would help if our GP's would come out of hiding and see patients face to face rather than a phone call, I seem to recall that Supermarket workers, hospital workers along with millions of others did not have this problem.
As a person who has suffered mental health issues and tried to use Essex health services in the last year might this doctor actually look at their own services as a cause of failure too. I was passed to at least 5 different mental health services within the space of a day, all claiming they were not the right service for me. From crisis line 111 option 2, to mind, to the gp surgery who only wanted to peracribe sleeping tablets over the phone. I then learn that there are public funded charities such as health watch Essex who are employed to collect the stats you so proudly quote. This funding could be better allocated to actual front line assistance rather than number crunching. Learning that there are several of these companies we see that the actual useful funding is poor for the actual services that should be helping. When I had the ring around for help I actually felt like I had disrupted that person's day, their attitude and view of "that's not my problem" was clear. Its as if I was cold calling advertising people at midnight! When that is the job they're employed to do!