Health and the Environment

The themes for 2016's Annual Conference focus on the impact that Specific Aspects of the Environment has on our Health: 



In this theme we will be considering the interactions between water – streams, rivers and ground waters – and health. Included are the impacts that can affect the purity of water in the Highlands – waste waters from hospitals and other healthcare premises, the entry of pharma ‘waste’ through the human body and being disposed of in patients’ homes into the water system and resultant impacts. These include the rise of antibiotic resistance in bacteria which has health implications. Other aspects include the effects of water pollution on gender outcomes, increases in other toxic substances on health. This whole system is increasingly coming under scrutiny and requires partnership working to tackle the problems effectively.


Earth and the land we live on can be translated into the idea of ‘home’. Under this theme innovations in the concept of supported living, known as the ‘Fit Home’ will be explored. This approach aims to maintain healthy living for older and vulnerable people in a supported interactive environment with minimally invasive monitoring and supportive technologies allowing individuals to remain as independent and active as possible, and ensuring that they can stay within a community. As technologies advance such concepts offer different ways of caring for individuals as they age, keeping them out of secondary care which is unsustainable.


Air pollution, even in the Highlands, is an increasing feature of many environments, both outdoors and indoors. This theme considers the problems associated with asthma and other respiratory diseases and views the environmental causes and clinical aspects of managing these conditions. The role of smoking and alternatives, such as vaping, are discussed as research into these alternatives might suggest that they are not as healthy an option as once considered. The incidence of asthma and its treatments form part of this theme in an effort to understand what else might be done to support reductions from a public health perspective in the future.


Fire might be said to be a motivation!! And in the Highlands, especially in the NHS, we have plenty to be ‘fired up’ about as the innovation, education and learning, and research environment continue to grow apace. This final aspect of the environment focuses on our human interactions aimed at making the Highlands an increasingly positive place to live and work, to be a patient and to be a clinician, to be a researcher and to be an innovator or an entrepreneur. While Water, Earth and Air are some of the themes we are currently focusing on, our collaborative interests are wide ranging including public health, treatment of illness and disease, preventive medicine, primary and secondary care, service improvement, community inclusion, mental health, product development, business and engagement and many more. Attracting people to live and work in this stimulating (fiery) environment is a key outcome.