Part of the solution or part of the problem?

05 November 2018

We will all recognise the huge consumption of energy and time involved when remote organisations publish lists of best and worst …. [insert here]. A media storm descends, people need briefing and prepared and facts need checking. And to what end?

It was Grimsby’s turn this week identified in a report by the RSPH, a follow up to a piece of “research” carried out in 2015 on health on the high street. It could have been any area with high levels of deprivation. You have to assume that the intention is well meaning and not an exercise in self-aggrandisement, success measured by media coverage, but does it add anything positive to the experience of people already facing unprecedented hardship?

When you hear a reporter on TV making a direct link to explain the reason for a difference in life expectancy being the type of shops, you do wonder what purpose such a report serves.

Empty shops are negative, coffee shops are positive…all this under a banner of public health? Is there an equivalent to the protected status for certain food types where we can restrict the misappropriation of the term “public health”? When you have worked in a discipline for years and undergone extensive training, you really do feel there should be some QA process when work is presented under a banner of public health. The quality and basis of this report is not of a quality I would expect from a national organisation and only serves to gain RSPH media profile, arguably at the expense of these local communities. Its recommendations seem naive and clumsily trying to try and fit with Budget announcements.

Hardly an asset based focus and not just lifestyle “drift” but more of an avalanche, inferring blame and feeding a likely social media trolling of people in poverty. When companies are reviewing their future on high streets how much will the report inform their choices, amplifying the impact of retail changes in poorer communities?

In 30 years in public health™ this represents a low point and disappointment in a national organisation carrying that name. shame shame shame…