Letter in response to the article which appeared on the front page of the Croydon Guardian
The headline, “Is Croydon being London’s unhealthiest borough?” certainly caught my attention. The report points out that Croydon’s consumption of beer and cigarettes is up -the highest in London – whilst purchases in fruit and vegetable have gone down during the recession. I for one would be interested to find out why Croydon has come top of this particular table.
Cllr Maggie Mansell is right to question how statistics should be interpreted. However, there are some general trends which may have led to these results which need exploring. In the long run an unhealthy borough will add pressure to Croydon NHS.
Firstly, is it right that supermarkets can sell alcohol so cheaply? Alcohol is one of the most harmful drugs – legal or illegal - available to us. The authorities have cowered to supermarket power and allowed them to sell alcohol as a “loss leader” to attract customers. Additionally, whilst there have been moves to cut tobacco advertising and sponsorship, there has been little or no attempt with regard to alcohol.
Secondly, the authorities have failed to recognise the importance of ‘prevention’ as well as ‘cure’ when it comes to health. This is a ticking time bomb for all of us because failure to change the emphasis will bankrupt the NHS leaving only those with the ability to pay access to healthcare. The root causes of ill health are not being addressed because there is a lack of joined up thinking. For example, the failure to provide a good local school for all children in Croydon, along with genuinely safe cycle routes, has meant that children are driven to and from school in the main. More vehicle journeys equals more pollution. Arguably, this coupled with the absence of a free healthy school meal for every child does nothing to reduce the record levels of childhood obesity and asthma.
Drug companies have provided us with some advancements, but failure to regulate the billions they spend on buying medical influence through sponsorship, gifts and free travel to overseas conferences is placing undue pressure on our doctors and nurses. Presently the NHS spends a massive £10 billion a year on drugs. Labour and the Conservatives both claim to be defenders of the NHS but the reality is there is no difference in their approach to health. They both want increased marketisation, a move towards a more Americanized system, a system that leaves 46m Americans without any form of health insurance.
I fear that unless there is genuine change, drug companies that profit from our ill health will be the only winners.
Croydon Green Party
Croydon is the unhealthiest borough in London, a new study shows.
Consumption of beer and cigarettes has doubled in the last two years and junk food sales are up by 40 per cent...............Link to story online
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