Snapshot of health concerns among the Leeds population

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Worries over poor quality housing and people being priced out of using leisure facilities were among the findings of a mass public health consultation.

Hundreds of people took part in the Leeds Big Chat, which asked people for their views to help NHS and council bosses tackle health inequalities in the city.

A report published by Healthwatch Leeds, the city’s health and social care watchdog, said: “People told us that they love living in Leeds, not least because the people are so friendly. They also said that the enjoy living in a big and diverse city which offers both great shopping and access to green spaces.”

But there were concerns over access to facilities to help people live healthy lives.

The report said: “Some people told us that a lack of time and motivation makes it difficult to take part in healthy activities. Poor health was another reason why people find it harder to get involved in healthy activities.”

Some 45 people who took part said leisure facilities were too expensive and that free or cheaper activities would encourage them to stay fit and active.

Others were concerned about food prices and the cost and reliability of public transport.

The report said: “Some people said that it was too expensive to buy healthy food and that public transport was not affordable.

“Many people also raised concerns about congestion in the city and suggested that fewer cars in the city centre and more pedestrian areas would make Leeds a better city for health and wellbeing.”

People told Healthwatch that they saw their GP practice as important in helping them manage their health.

But there were concerns over access to mental health services and waiting times for treatment. The report said: “Many people are happy with the health services they receive in Leeds, but some people are unhappy with access to specialist services and waiting times, especially for GP surgery appointments.

“Many people told us that they want better mental health services in the city, with improved access to counselling and shorter waiting lists.”

People said the stability of housing had a significant impact on health and wellbeing.

The report said: “Some people told us that they want better housing in Leeds, especially for deprived communities and the homeless.”

NHS, council and charity organisations took part in the Leeds Big Chat, the first event of its kind. Around 500 people took part in a day-long consultation at Leeds Kirkgate Market. Further Big Chat events are planned for the city.