Glasgow’s appalling health record is the result of poverty, lack of drive and a feeling of uselessness amongst working-class areas of the city, according to Scotland’s leading public health expert Sir Harry Burns.
Sir Harry, who previously held senior public health positions in Greater Glasgow Health Board and the Scottish Government, says the city is paying the price of industrial decline and its impact on social cohesion over the last 40 years.
The major causes of lower life expectancy in parts of the city is down to four main causes: drug addiction, alcohol abuse, violence and suicide.
Contrary to the popularly held belief that it is all down to a poor diet, Burns points to the social and psychological roots of the problem, linked directly to the loss of tens of thousands of jobs in heavy industries like shipbuilding, and the consequent loss of resource, facilities and capacity.
In a fascinating interview with Derek Bateman, Burns said that social breakdown was the root cause of poor health. In his view, many children today have grown up in circumstances where their parents – and even grandparents – have been without work. The impact in some communities has been catastrophic.
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