MENTAL health, substance misuse and medical workforce recruitment — despite the benefits of living on the coast, England's chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, has said more needs to be done to address health inequalities coastal communities face.

In his annual report, Professor Whitty calls for a national strategy to address the repeated health problems, saying if nothing was done to tackle them vigorously and systematically 'there would be a long tail of preventable ill-health which will get worse as current populations age'.

The Isle of Wight Council's policy and scrutiny committee for health and social care discussed the 'very interesting and revealing factors' earlier this week and echoed issues needed to be addressed.

Problems like deprivation, mental health and alcohol and drug abuse were identified to be considerable health challenges on the Island and in other coastal communities.

Other key drivers to improve health and wellbeing were said to be wider than health like housing, education, employment and transport.

Professor Whitty said those issues should not be faced, and fixed, by local communities alone and needed a much larger response effort.

Welcoming the report, Cllr Michael Lilley said the issues raised in the report were a reality on the Island and the report should be used to argue for more resources.

He said it was not often a national report supports everything they have been saying and campaigning for.

Cllr Lilley said funding streams for coastal communities need to be explored to help address some of the issues.

Professor Chris Whitty said coastal communities had been overlooked and as a result, limited data was known about the health and wellbeing of those areas.

He said while the focus over the summer has been directed towards visitors choosing to stay on the coast, it is important to remember it is also home to millions of people whose health and wellbeing has 'long been neglected and overlooked'.

The Island's director of public health, Simon Bryant, said he was part of a south-east group to take the recommendations of Professor Whitty's report forward.

Cllr Lilley also suggested asking MP Bob Seely and other important channels to use the report, to highlight issues and help with the solutions.