Hastings welcomes Chris Whitty’s report highlighting inequalities in coastal towns

The Chief Medical Officer’s annual report into the health in coastal communities has been welcomed by Hastings Borough Council.

Chris Whitty, England’s Chief Medical Officer, highlighted the ‘substantial higher burden of physical and mental health conditions’ in coastal towns, drawing similarities between resort towns like Blackpool, and Hastings, Skegness and Torbay.

After the report was published, Hastings Borough Council said the town needs action and support ‘to address the issues and inequalities raised’.

The report found older, retired citizens often settle in coastal regions but without the same access to healthcare as urban inland areas which may be located nearby. In small seaside towns, 31 per cent of residents were aged 65 or over in 2019, compared to 22 per cent in smaller non-coastal towns.

Hastings Town Centre SUS-210906-121325001

The report also found a difficulty in attracting NHS and social care staff to peripheral areas. Coastal communities had 14.6 per cent fewer postgraduate medical trainees, 15 per cent fewer consultants and 7.4 per cent fewer nurses per patient than the national average.

Hastings Borough Council said: “We welcome the Chief Medical Officer’s report which highlights the inequalities coastal towns like Hastings face.

“We have been lobbying for additional support over many years to ensure our residents have the same quality of life and life expectancy that others enjoy only a few miles from here. It is recognised that COVID has increased the divide within our society and it is an essential part of recovering from this pandemic that these issues are addressed properly.

“While the publication of this report is a good starting point, we need action and support to address the issues and inequalities raised. This would benefit not only the residents of Hastings and other coastal towns, but the overall health across the entire country.

“As a council, we are playing our part on the Town Deal board. With our additional £24m funding through the Town Deal, our Town Investment Plan aims to make Hastings a ‘healthy, vibrant and quirky seaside town that people love to visit, live and work in’. This is an opportunity for us to build on the town’s strengths, pushing to achieve that vision.

“We also continue to work with other organisations including the NHS and public health to tackle these health inequalities so that our residents can live their lives in good health, reaching their full potential.”

Cllr Kim Forward, leader of the council, added: “Hastings is a wonderful town, in a beautiful location. We have a vibrant and creative community, and our sense of authentic seaside life is very attractive to the many people who have moved here to live and work in the last few years. But many long-standing residents have also fallen behind, held back by poor life chances including inadequate education, training and employment opportunities. So it’s not surprising how poor many residents health is.

“We welcome this report, it is an honest and timely study, and it will help us in our determination to close the gap here between the haves and the have nots.”