Dr. Tiplady, Director of Public Health in Cumbria,
“To prove Links Between FMD Pyres & Illness. The guidance was released far too late, and I believe that was done for political reasons," he said.
Cumberland News 28th June 2002.
The man who stopped the pyres burning in Cumbra during the foot and mouth epidemic says that today he will conclusively prove ill health and in some cases death because of the crisis.
Dr Peter Tiplady, the Director of Public Health for North Cumbria, will give a hard-hitting statement to a conference called by the Institute of Rural Health and the Rural Forum today in Wetheral.
In a no-holds barred presentation, Dr. Tiplady will produce some of the initial findings of an investigation in Cumbria into the physical and mental health of people directly affected by the crisis.
This investigation, for which Dr Tiplady won #25,000 of funding from the Government, is looking at all current health statistics, prescribing rates of drugs, visits to GPs, death rates and mental health issues that arose from the crisis.
The study is being carried out by the Institute for Health Research at Lancaster University.
Dr Tipladv told The Cumberland News,
"The impact of the outbreak on the physical and mental health of people in Cumbria was enormous.”
"We were largely ignored by the structure in spite of all our efforts that this disaster could be harmful to the health of people in Cumbria. The focus of the recovery has now been mainly economic, which is essential, but it must also take consideration of health.”
"A lot of people were made ill by breathing in the smoke of these pyres and others have suffered extraordinary anxiety in their lives.”
"We are currently examining the data on GP prescribing at this time and analysing the mortality figures for Cumbria.
"This is difficult because we are not looking at a jumbo jet crash in Cumbria where death can be directly attributed to a disaster. This is more of a gradual process where we have to examine fluctuating figures for mortality rates and piece them together.”
"However, it is already clear that there have been a number of stress-related deaths as a result of this crisis such as suicide and heart failure.”
"There is also loads of evidence which already prove that a one per cent drop in employment will lead to rises in death rates.
"The research is also discovering from interviews, diaries and focus groups involving people directly affected by this crisis that there are still, 18 months on, considerable and profound mental-health issues for them.”
"We do now have stories that tell the real and very important facts of how people reacted and had to cope with this. We will be piecing together all this information."
Dr. Tiplady will also say tomorrow that he felt "let down” by the lack of information that was given to public health departments over the potential effects of the pyres that burned in Cumbria.
He put a stop to pyres because he feared they would cause a danger to health. Railway sleepers that were initially used to stoke the fires released polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons into the atmosphere.
He was also growing increasingly concerned over the level of dioxins (a cancer causing agent) in the smoke.
Dr Tiplady made his decision several weeks before the Department of Health released guidance on how and where the pyres should be lit.
“This guidance was released far too late, and I believe that was done for political reasons," he said.
"When it was, it did show that many of the pyres that were lit in Cumbria and we stopped weeks before, would not have been permitted under this guidance."
Other speakers at tomorrow's conference include Dr Katy Bennett, rural economy researcher at Newcastle University; Margaret Clarke, a director of the Countryside Agency; and Dr John Wynn Jones, a GP and director of the Institute for Rural Health.