Up to 10,000 Guernsey people in poverty, says chief medical officer

Dr Stephen Bridgman
Image caption Dr Bridgman has called for a reform of the benefit and tax system

More needs to be done to reduce the gap between rich and poor in Guernsey, according to the island's chief medical officer.

Dr Stephen Bridgman said between 5,000 and 10,000 islanders currently live in relative poverty.

He said many had restricted access to health services because they simply could not afford it.

Dr Bridgman said the health service needed restructuring to ensure there was affordable healthcare for all.

Speaking after the publication of his annual report entitled Health Equity he said any changes needed to be made alongside a review of the tax and benefits system.

Social Security Minister Allister Langlois said: "I'm surprised by the extent of the political and economic comment in Dr Bridgman's report.

"When the fiscal and benefits review takes place some of his comments will be very pertinent and we will be making our own measures and judgements about what constitutes a level of poverty that should be tackled."

In a statement the Health Department said: "In January the States will receive an update on the department's vision... the States will be asked to consider what steps it takes next to ensure a fair and equitable healthcare system for islanders.

"The January debate will be the first occasion the new States makes it clear what direction they want to take on the future of healthcare and social care."

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