Brent has the highest rate of Tuberculosis in Western Europe
PUBLISHED: 12:00 06 October 2012
Last year there were 316 cases reported in the borough
Brent has the highest rate of Tuberculosis (TB) in Western Europe, the Times can reveal.
Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) show that London has the highest rate in all major Western European cities and that Brent was the highest of all 33 London boroughs.
Last year there were 316 cases reported in the borough, up from 302 in 2010.
Every student at Kingsbury High School in Princes Avenue, Kingsbury, were screened for the disease following a breakout in July.
TB is a potentially fatal illness caused by a bacterial infection that predominantly attacks the lungs but can also affect the bones and nervous system. Colin Maynard, who lives in Kingsbury, sent the FOI request to both health chiefs and the council and has been trying to get answers since his girlfriend died from the disease in 2010.
However, while NHS North West London has revealed plans to combat the issue, Brent Council has been accused of burying its head in the sand.
In a letter seen by the Times from outgoing chief executive Gareth Daniel to Mr Maynard, it says the authority “has no duty to inform tourists and visitors” about TB and no duty ‘‘to inoculate council employees’’.
It also said that spitting measures introduced in Wembley High Road were not related to TB prevention methods despite it being one of the easiest ways to spread the disease.
Mr Maynard, told the Times: “It’s clearly a huge issue in the borough. How you can say you have no legal duty to warn residents is beyond me.
“You need to look at the symptoms and take it seriously because it seems like a ticking time bomb.
“I sincerely hope the new chief executive will take note of what is a serious problem facing our borough and think about introducing measures.”
A spokesman for TB Alert, a national organisation aiming highlight awareness of the disease said: “With responsibility moving from the NHS to local authorities for preventing people becoming ill, it is crucial that Brent Council makes sure that the communities most at risk hear this message.”
Dr Simon Bowen, director of public health for Brent, told the Times that TB control is a “high priority”. He added: “The need for early diagnosis and prevention of active TB is reflected in the joint Council and Primary Care Trusts’ Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2012-15, which is out to consultation shortly.
“Much of the work currently being undertaken and planned is to promote awareness of TB and to improve TB control in Brent.
“We are also working closely with colleagues at the North West London Hospital Trust and the Health Protection Agency.
“The second main area of work focuses on partnership work with communities and the third sector.”
Brent Council declined to comment on Mr Daniel’s response to Mr Maynard’s letter.