Martina Pickin, Consultant in
Public Health at East Sussex County Council delivered an update on
the Director of Public Health’s Report ‘The State of
Child Health in East Sussex’. The report focused on the state
of child health in the county, in comparison to the same report
nationally and details six chapters focusing on different stages in
childhood. The data presented highlights 25 key national measures
with a focus on additional specific issues for East Sussex where
data is available. Each chapter contains a set of recommendations
for further action.
In each chapter of the report,
tables are provided, showing a comparison of the rate of certain
health factors across districts and boroughs in the county, as well
as national averages.
Hastings differed to the county
average in certain categories, including maternal smoking, which
was higher than its neighbours and breastfeeding, in which it was
lower than its neighbours. Hastings and Rother were jointly lower
on vaccinations than the county and national average.
The report highlights the impact
of deprivation on a range of key health statistics which can be
clearly seen for the statistics regarding Hastings e.g. tooth
Teenage conception continues to
be particularly high in Hastings, as well as self-harm, mental
health issues and the rate of child poverty.
For some of the reported
statistics it is not possible to comment whether their status is
good or bad e.g. number of child protection plans.
It was also noted that the
deprivation indicators focus on disparity between those more well
off communities and deprived communities, in regards to education,
green spaces and air quality for instance. However, indicators like
these were noted to make coastal towns seem less deprived, due to
their access to open spaces on the beach, and better air
A key point was made, that the
health of individuals as children affects them for the rest of
their life, but most problems highlighted were able to be prevented
at a local level.
A question was raised in regards
to the rates of epilepsy, and whether there really was a
correlation between epilepsy and deprivation. The answer was that
there may be a correlation between learning disabilities and
epilepsy, and that those from deprived backgrounds are more likely
to have learning disabilities.
Furthermore, in regards to
reductions in funding for local authorities, there was a query on
whether work was still continuing in the areas mentioned in the
report. The reply was that work was continuing in the areas
included in the report, even with less funding. It was also stated
that the CCG’s Health and Equalities program had brought
funding in to different services, such as programs about maternal
smoking and breastfeeding, both of which had been making good
progress, with maternal smoking rates falling and rates of
breastfeeding rising. Alongside this, the Hastings Opportunity Area
funding was aiding in helping this work continue.
The group raised an issue on
whether the LSP would take an overview or mark progress over the
last fifteen years in regards to these reports, and their findings.
It was stated that there was trend data in the report where the
information was available. The group then suggested that the LSP
could commission work to look analytically over what has occurred
during the life of the LSP, and look at the statistics
comparatively to see any long term trends.
The group suggested that the LSP
engage with communities so that issues that are perpetuating can be
The group agreed that a single
approach for Hastings need to be adopted by the LSP to tackle the
issues that the town faces, as detailed in the report.
It was agreed that in the future,
the possibility of the council, county council and partners working
together to create a brief for a piece of work, to see what
progress the LSP could make to improve the situation of health in