How ageism and inactivity are destroying the NHS

The Friends of Eastbourne Hospital have a fantastic free talk on “How ageism and inactivity are destroying the NHS” coming up on Thursday 18th May 2017. It takes place at 7pm in the Postgrade Centre lecture theatre at Eastbourne DGH. To reserve a place call 01323 438236, or email

About the talk

The NHS is creaking. The new normal is to spend our final decades with multiple conditions, including dementia. The NHS and medical research is built on single conditions, yet 75% of hospital beds are now full with people with multiple, often preventable conditions and social needs. 75% of NHS spending is on long-term conditions. 75% of illness is caused by ‘lifestyle factors’ (mainly smoking, exercise, diet and alcohol). Exercise, at a dose of 20 minutes a day, reduces an individual’s risk of ever getting diabetes, dementia, depression, high blood pressure, heart disease and breast cancer, each by 25-50%. Exercise also helps with secondary prevention (reducing complications when you have a condition, including recurrence of cancer and mental health). Most of the UK population do so little exercise they are becoming ill.

We need to talk about embarrassing matters: money, social class, property prices, culture and respect. Future generations of older people won’t be able to afford years of care for frailty that might have been preventable. There are vast inequalities in health. For individuals, behaviour change is best when fitted into a schedule. For societies, we need to build safer communities and change culture so that exercise is normal. The UK is building up to a million new homes with obesogenic cul-de-sacs. We should demand play parks, running tracks, cycle lanes alongside roads and through all developments, cycle parking by all public buildings and inspection regimens including staff wellbeing; we must give others who are cycling or walking a bit more space and time. We’ve done it for seat belts and dog poo.

We also need to be aware of our unconscious biases, which can limit how we value people and focus on respect as an antidote to bullying.

Mrs Scarlett McNally is a Consultant Orthopaedic surgeon at East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust. She qualified as a doctor in 1989, and also has a BSc in Anthropology, MBA in Health service management and MA in Clinical Education. She was the ninth woman elected onto the Council of the Royal College of Surgeons. She has lectured in Australia and the UK on preventing bullying. She was previously Chair of Bespoke. She is speaking in a personal capacity. She is passionate about each person being the best that they can be.


Exercise – The miracle cure
What if the NHS acknowledged that ageism and classism limit the update of exercise