Poor health linked to bad housing

The British Medical Association has called on the government to
create a healthy housing task force this week after a report found
that poor housing was adversely affecting the most vulnerable
groups in society.

The long-term health effects of children growing up in bed and
breakfast accommodation, for example, will not be known for years,
the report says. But these children are already known to often
suffer from behavioural problems, stress, unhappiness, poor sleep
and infections.

The BMA wants a task force to be set up to tackle poor housing and
health, reporting to the appropriate ministers and re-establishing
a strong link between health and housing policy and practice.

Dr Vivienne Nathanson, the BMA’s head of science and ethics, said:
“Recognition of the link between poor housing and ill-health
started in the 1800s so it is appalling that in the 21st century we
are still raising concerns about this issue.”

Government statistics show that the total number of households in
bed and breakfast accommodation stood at 13,300 at the end of
September 2002.

In February, homelessness minister Barbara Roche announced plans
for legislation banning councils from housing families with
children in B&Bs for longer than six weeks.

– Housing and Health from www.bma.org.uk

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