England records 60% hike in hospital admissions for waterborne diseases

Recent data in England has indicated a 60% surge in waterborne diseases like dysentery and Weil’s disease (leptospirosis) since 2010, highlighting a growing health concern. A Labour party analysis of NHS hospital admissions shows an increase in hospital admissions for waterborne infections from 2,085 cases in 2010-11 to 3,286 in 2022-23.

This uptick in disease coincides with public outrage over a significant rise in sewage discharges into rivers and seas, reported to have escalated by 129% over the last year according to Environment Agency figures, totaling over 3.6 million hours of raw sewage release. The heightened presence of sewage increases infection risks, as human waste bacteria can easily come into contact with individuals engaging in water-related activities.

In the past year alone, 122 cases of leptospirosis were reported, a notable increase from a decade ago. This condition, potentially leading to severe diseases liver and kidney damage, is contracted through exposure to water contaminated with infected urine. Similarly, typhoid cases rose from 445 to 603, further emphasizing the health risks of polluted water.

In response, Labour’s shadow environment secretary, Steve Reed, criticized the current government for neglecting illegal sewage disposal issues, exacerbating health risks and inflating consumer water bills while company executives receive hefty bonuses. Reed advocates for stricter oversight of water companies, proposing criminal charges for violations and withholding bonuses until pollution issues are addressed.

The issue also affects sports events, as seen with the Oxford and Cambridge boat race, where organizers have had to issue safety warnings against entering the water due to high E. coli levels. Traditional post-race celebrations are being reconsidered to protect participants from polluted water.

Experts and environmental advocates call for immediate reform to address the public health implications of polluted waters. They argue for stringent measures against polluters and investment in nature recovery to prevent further public health crises and reduce NHS expenditures on related diseases. Public sentiment strongly supports such reforms, with calls for accountability and enhanced environmental protection measures to safeguard public health, diseases and preserve natural water bodies.

Furthermore, Alastair Chisholm, the director of policy at the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management, emphasizes that the majority of the public is demanding reforms in water management. He stresses that the current state of river pollution not only harms the environment but also poses significant health risks to individuals.

Richard Benwell, CEO of Wildlife and Countryside Link, echoes these sentiments, labeling pollution and habitat loss as a public health crisis. He suggests that substantial savings could be made within the NHS by prioritizing efforts to clean up rivers, reduce air pollution, and restore natural habitats. Benwell emphasizes the importance of holding major polluters accountable and ensuring that water companies invest in initiatives aimed at restoring nature, ultimately benefiting public health.

In a notable shift, Richard Walker, a former Tory donor and businessman previously associated with Surfers Against Sewage, has switched his support to Labour. He criticizes the Conservative government for neglecting coastal and river pollution issues, likening it to their broader governance style over the past 14 years. Walker supports Labour’s plan for decisive action to address water quality concerns, emphasizing the need for vital improvements to be prioritized over financial gains for corporate interests.

In response, a government spokesperson acknowledges the severity of sewage discharge into waters and asserts that measures are being taken to hold water companies accountable. These actions include demanding increased investment, enhancing monitoring of sewage overflow, and proposing a ban on executive bonuses in cases of criminal breaches. The government underscores its commitment to stringent targets for sewage reduction and pledges to prioritize interventions in designated bathing areas to mitigate health risks promptly.

The ongoing debate underscores the urgent need for comprehensive strategies to address water pollution and safeguard public health. It highlights the importance of governmental accountability, corporate responsibility, and public advocacy in tackling environmental challenges and ensuring the well-being of communities across England.

Latest articles

US: 40% of people exposed to unhealthy levels of air pollution

According to a recent report by the American Lung Association, nearly 40% of people in the US are exposed to unhealthy levels of air...

Profits dip, Tesla comes up with new models

Tesla's profits have significantly declined this year, prompting the company to accelerate the release of new models and cut thousands of jobs in an...

Greece: Athens covered with orange Sahara dust haze

An intense orange haze has enveloped Athens, creating a surreal landscape as vast clouds of Sahara Desert dust have drifted over the city. This...

Argentina: People protest against cuts to public universities

Tens of thousands of demonstrators filled the streets of Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, on Tuesday, to protest and for voicing their opposition...

Related articles