Evennett urges action on public health

David Evennett, MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford, secured a Westminster Hall debate yesterday morning (26 October) about public health issues in Bexley.

Mr Evennett raised his concerns about the long-term consequences for individuals and society if health inequalities, and associated problems such as obesity, smoking, alcoholism and tuberculosis, are not properly addressed. In particular, he highlighted statistics that show:

• The difference in life expectancy for two men living in different parts of Bexley could be as much as or more than seven years;
• 1 in 3 eleven year olds and 1 in 4 adults in the Borough are considered overweight or obese;
• London has the highest rate of tuberculosis in of any capital city in Western Europe
• 17% of local women smoke throughout pregnancy;
• The number of local hospital admissions wholly attributable to alcohol had increased by 70%.

During his speech, Mr Evennett said:

“As well as causing serious long-term health issues, health inequalities have a wider impact. We all know that obesity can lead to problems with diabetes and heart failure, that smoking kills tens of thousands of people every year and that alcoholism can cause liver failure and increase a person’s susceptibility to other diseases. Those associated illnesses can cause productivity losses for business, reduce school attendance for children and lead to high treatment costs for the NHS. If those problems are not addressed, we could face greater problems in the future”.

He praised the Bexley Stop Smoking Service for their work in helping people quit smoking, welcomed the fact that all Bexley schools have achieved healthy school status and encouraged the Minister to support plans for a health campus at Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup. He said:

“There is a huge amount going on in Bexley that is to be commended, and I put that on the record. The vast majority of people in our borough are really good people—moderate, reasonable people—and educating, helping and advising them is the way forward”.

The full text of the speech, and the response of the Public Health Minister Anne Milton MP, can be found here: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm111026/halltext/111026h0001.htm#11102653000678