Virus will affect mental health long-term, warns new health boss

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Matt AshtonImage source, Liverpool City Council
Image caption,
Matt Ashton's father John is the former North West regional director of public health

The coronavirus outbreak will cause long-term impacts on mental health and obesity, the new director of public health for Liverpool has said.

Matt Ashton took over the role at Liverpool City Council on Wednesday.

The 47-year-old said society must prepare for related health issues which could still be seen a year after the outbreak ends.

"This is not just short term this is longer term," he said.

"We don't understand what recovery looks like or what society is going to look like in six, nine or 12 months.

"We don't know what the impact will be on collective mental health and wellbeing, or the impact on obesity levels."

Mr Ashton said the University of Liverpool and other institutions were working to compiling data from NHS services and from social media which could be key to tackling potential future problems.

He said: "There is a whole range of service-related data we need to be looking at collectively, such as NHS capacity levels and data from the 111 service.

"There are also all kinds of social data like traffic, how busy the roads are, and social media, what are the issues which are concerning people or not being addressed, we can analyse all that data and come up with a model which informs local decision making.

"Data is not always numbers. Part of it is communicating with our residents about what they are feeling and what they are experiencing which is so important."

The father-of-two, who for now will be working from home, was previously director of public health for Sefton Council.

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