Seaside towns have far fewer doctors than other areas, despite having significantly more elderly people, a report by the Chief Medical Officer has found.
Coastal towns were found to have populations with lower life expectancies and higher rates of many major diseases compared with inland areas.
Professor Chris Whitty disclosed the findings as part of his annual report, which presents an overview of the health of England’s population.
He warned the Government must tackle the challenges facing coastal regions or they will “get worse”.
It was found that seaside towns have 40 per cent more over-65s, accounting for 31 per cent of the population, than inland regions, where it accounts for 22 per cent of the population.
Despite the greater risk of ill health and an older population, coastal communities had 15 per cent fewer junior doctors and consultants and seven per cent fewer nurses.
Older, retired citizens were said to be more likely to settle down in seaside regions but subsequently suffered from poorer access to healthcare.
The report also found that coastal towns have an oversupply of cheap guest housing and houses of multiple occupation (HMOs) which encourages the migration of vulnerable people, often with certain health needs.
Prof Whitty recommended a cross-government national strategy to improve the health and wellbeing in the report, which has been developed over the past year.
It comes after the Government’s levelling up agenda was introduced with the aim of investing billions of pounds across the UK, including seaside towns such as Hastings and Hartlepool.
Prof Whitty said: “Coastal areas are some of the most beautiful, vibrant and historic places in the country.
“They also have some of the worst health outcomes with low life expectancy and high rates of many major diseases.
“These communities have often been overlooked by governments and the ill-health hidden because their outcomes are merged with wealthier inland areas.
“A national strategy informed by local leaders and experts will help reduce inequalities and preventable ill health.
“If we do not tackle the health problems of coastal communities vigorously and systematically there will be a long tail of preventable ill health, which will get worse as current populations age.”
The analysis found that Blackpool is the most deprived local authority in England, while also experiencing the lowest life expectancy for both men (74.4 years) and women (79.5 years).
Coastal areas in the North East, such as Hartlepool and Hull, have seen high rates of Covid-19 compared with the rest of the country, while both have seen a negative impact on the local economies, the report said.
Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, said: “I welcome this report from Prof Chris Whitty, which raises important points on inequalities that we must tackle to improve the health of coastal communities – and I will carefully consider these recommendations.
“Those living in coastal areas clearly face different sets of challenges to those inland but everybody, no matter where they live, should have similar opportunities in education, housing, employment and health.
“We are committed to levelling up across the nation.”