Britain’s shrinking councils: Blackpool, Ceredigion… Kensington and Chelsea

According to recently-released data from the ONS, there were 4.82 million more people in the UK on this date in 2016 than on 30 June 2006, an increase of 7.9%. Many cities and big towns are growing much faster, with Manchester, Coventry, Peterborough, Luton, Milton Keynes, Slough and Bournemouth all up by more than 15%.

But 22 top-tier council areas (unitaries or county councils) have actually seen a fall in population over that decade. With one exception, they fall into two groups. Some are badly-off remote rural areas including Cumbria, Na h-Eileanan Siar (the Western Isles) and Ceredigion in Wales. Others are badly-off urban and suburban areas in the north of England and Scotland including Blackpool, Knowsley and Sefton on Merseyside and several authorities around Glasgow – although not the City of Glasgow itself, which grew 8.2%.

Continue reading “Britain’s shrinking councils: Blackpool, Ceredigion… Kensington and Chelsea”

Into the woods: how walks are improving mental health

A trailblazing approach to mental health by Forestry Commission Scotland and local health boards is seeing service users go on activity-filled woodland walks

For Guardian Healthcare Professionals Network I have covered Branching Out, a programme run by Forestry Commission Scotland that uses the theraputic powers of woodland to help groups of mental health patients. Since it was launched in Glasgow in 2007, it has spread to most of the NHS boards in Scotland. Continue reading “Into the woods: how walks are improving mental health”

Cambridge’s eHospital problems and Scotland’s IT projects

ComputerWeekly.com has published my article on Cambridge University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust’s problems bringing in eHospital, a £200m IT system based around software from Epic and hardware from HP. While the trust initially reported all was going well, eHospital has recently been fingered by Monitor and the Care Quality Commission as contributing to the trust’s problems.

I spoke to a number of people with knowledge of eHospital, including this former IT employee of the trust who spoke on condition of anonymity: Continue reading “Cambridge’s eHospital problems and Scotland’s IT projects”

Glasgow’s excess mortality: blame deprivation and housing?

Guardian Healthcare Professionals Network has just published an article by me on cities, health and data. This gave me the chance to revisit what has been a puzzle: what is the cause of Glasgow’s excess mortality, which sees men there dying nearly a decade earlier than in the longest-living urban area in the UK (Kensington and Chelsea)?

The Glasgow Centre for Population Health has been working to find answers, and it has a couple, provisionally. Firstly, it thinks that Glasgow’s deprivation is deeper than the data – which tends to measure whether people are below a threshhold (and therefore qualify for a benefit) – suggests. Secondly, it believes that Glasgow had a particularly bad legacy of poor post-war housing, such as the Red Road tower-blocks that the city attempted to demolish at the weekend.  There are other factors too. Continue reading “Glasgow’s excess mortality: blame deprivation and housing?”