The year is ending at a gallop. Brexit may have pretty much paralyzed the government in Westminster but in national, regional and local administrations the wheels still turn. Health issues still feature in the media, some, such as rough sleeping and alcohol intoxication, being seasonal fixtures. Universities and experts continue to provide new analysis, information and fresh angles on key subjects. This may all sound very self-evident to colleagues outside the UK, but it is reassuring, at least to me, to take a moment and remind ourselves that the earth has not stopped turning on its axis as issues over the backstop, second referendum, votes of no confidence etc. etc. dominate the news and conversation.
Ignorance is a lot like alcohol: the more you have of it, the less you are able to see its effect on you – Jay Bylsma
It’s been a very busy few weeks. I have been involved in finalising and rolling out a London wide alcohol campaign aimed at those out celebrating in the run up to Christmas. Let me thank all who have contributed, especially my colleague Jess. It’s been a serious piece of work getting partners on board and materials out on time. No mean feat. You can find out more about Eat, Pace, Plan here https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/services/community-and-living/safer-city-partnership/Documents/christmas-toolkit-2018.pdf
On 3 December we hosted a major conference looking at how we can move to eradicate Hepatitis C. It was a great event that attracted over 200 attendees, a positive indication of the growing interest in this issue. It was also the biggest audience for one of our events since the first City Health Conference back in 2012.
We all have our heroes, those who inspire and motivate us. They may be historic or contemporary, known through books, film or via the news. Quite possibly we may have actually met or even worked alongside someone who we view as a hero. Many of us, if we think about it, will have a considerable number of heroes, and every country, city and profession provides its own candidates, though many are disputed and once established heroes can find themselves out of favour as views and understanding changes. Many of course never receive much in the way of acknowledgement or reward, quiet heroes going about their work without fanfare. Of course, the field of health improvement provides us with a rich list of famous names to choose from, Hippocrates, Jenner, Pasteur, Fleming, Snow (who I will return to), Bazalgette, Bevan. I am sure you could all add many, many more. This list is of course historic, and I want to ponder a moment on who might be celebrated as a hero in 20, 50 or 100 years.
Like another 1.5 million Londoners my commute to and from work regularly involves reading the Evening Standard, a free newspaper that enjoys a rich heritage and is almost a part of the fabric of the City. This despite its politics and editorial stance often being at odds with London’s inclinations. It does benefit from some quality journalism and has a breadth of coverage which reflects London’s status as a world city. Last Monday there were three articles which ensured I didn’t doze off on my journey, and which captured three of the key issues facing our major global centres.