One of the government’s top scientific advisers paid a visit to Coventry on Friday 18th January, to understand the public health challenges.
He was accompanied by Dame Professor Anne Jonson, Chair of the UK Strategic Co-ordinating Body for Health of the Public Research (SCHOPR).
Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Scientific Adviser for the Department of Health and Social Care and head of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) (the nation's largest funder of health and social care research), spent the day with professionals at Coventry City Council. The NIHR has a presence in Coventry through the NIHR Clinical Research Network West Midlands and NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) West Midlands.
He heard all about the public health aspect of Coventry as well as the challenges and opportunities facing the city.
Prof Whitty started his day by meeting with key members of the Chief Executive team and Director of Public Health and Wellbeing, Liz Gaulton, where he was given an overview of Coventry.
This was followed by a discussion around the new place based Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA), presented by key members of the Insight and Intelligence team.
Following this was a session on Coventry as a Marmot City and poverty in the city. Prof Graeme Currie, Deputy Director for the NIHR
(CLAHRC ) West Midlands, joined this discussion.
Director of Public Health and Wellbeing at Coventry City Council, Liz Gaulton said “I’m really proud of the broad of the approach we take in Coventry to improve health outcomes and reduce inequalities. It’s testament to the partnerships we have that we were able to show Professor Whitty and Professor Johnson Dame Anne such excellent and innovate work, I’m sure they will of have returned to DHSC with some really good ideas based on what we are doing in Coventry.”
During the afternoon of his visit, Prof Whitty was taken on a tour of the Coventry, alongside Deputy Chief Executive, Martin Yardley and Liz Gaulton. He was talked through the regeneration and health benefits of Coventry. There were also discussions around Coventry as City of Culture and European Capital of Sport, which will both drive lots of prospects for the city.
Prof Whitty said: “City of Culture 2021 presents such a great opportunity for Coventry to help improve the lives of the people of the city. I was glad to hear that Coventry City Council is working in partnership with NIHR researchers to ensure that from the outset that health benefits are being considered in the planning process.”
Prof Whitty was later presented with information surrounding air quality in Coventry, led by Nadia Inglis, Consultant in Public Health, joined by Clinical Research Fellow’s from Coventry and Birmingham University. This session gave Prof Whitty a good understanding into the current air quality situation in Coventry and the ways in which the city are tackling air pollution.
Prof Chris Whitty said: “Research and innovation are key to bringing about improvements in people’s health. I was extremely interested to hear of the innovative approaches that Coventry City Council is taken to address air quality in terms of changing road layouts and signage. It is only by tackling problems such as this with novel approaches that we can have a positive impact on public health.”
The visit to Coventry was found to be very informative by Prof Whitty as well as Dame Anne Johnson.