Health inequality the focus at inaugural public health conference

Professor Chris Whitty and Darrell Gale with young people and reps from schools and collegesYOUNG people considering a career in medicine were able to take inspiration from an event featuring the country’s Chief Medical Officer.

Professor Chris Whitty spoke to hundreds of health professionals at the first ever South East Public Health Conference with around 400 delegates attending to hear his keynote speech.

With a focus on opportunities for action on health inequalities, public health teams from across the region – including Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, the Isle of Wight, Kent and Medway, were able to attend the Eastbourne event and take part in a variety of scientific persentations and take part in discussions and workshops and share learning and experiences.

Young people from schools and colleges from across East Sussex were also invited to the conference, on Friday, March 24, as part of an ongoing commitment by the county’s Public Health team to remove hurdles and nurture careers in medicine, science and health care for young people across all parts of the county.

Elke Rogers, 17, who is studying at Heathfield Community College and considering a future in medical research, attended last week’s event and said: “I’m hoping to find out about different careers related to health, things I wouldn’t have thought about it.”

Sam Martin, 19, from Plumpton College is considering a career as a cardiac scientist and said: “I came to learn more about the industry.  I enjoyed Chris Whitty’s presentation, the way he talks, he is very witty.”

With the conference taking place three years to the day that the UK was put into lockdown for the first time to protect the population from the spread of COVID-19, public health teams were able to look back at the challenges of protecting their populations and implementing testing and tracing and vaccination programmes in their local communities.

East Sussex’s Director of Public Health, Darrell Gale said: “This event gave us a chance to celebrate the achievements of public health teams across the south east in the ten years since they moved from NHS to local authorities, and share learning, opportunities and challenges – most notably the work done during the unprecedented Covid pandemic.

“The event also allowed us to build on the ongoing work of the Universal Healthcare Proposition in Hastings which aims to remove hurdles to careers in healthcare and medicine for children in our most deprived areas and grow our own workforce from our own communities.”