Health Inequalities

Politicians had a flee put in their ear last week as they took tough and challenging evidence from Professor John McLaren, a representative of the Centre for Public Policy for Regions.


During an evidence session he informed the Health committee that last month the Office for National Statistics published figures which show that Scotland is falling behind the rest of the UK in terms of healthy life expectancy.


In England and Wales it increased by three and four years respectively for males.


Worrying for Scotland, it is going in the other direction with one a half years less of healthy life expectancy.


Professor McLaren made clear his concern at the lack of comment from politicians and the media regarding this revelation.


Astonishingly, there has not even been an analysis of these figures by the government since their publication.


Given one of the Scottish Governments key targets is to ensure that everyone is able to live longer and healthier lives by 2020, it seems that something is going badly wrong.


Professor McLaren’s message to the Health Committee was loud and clear. Politicians and governments are eager to announce more money for the NHS, to set targets and press release initiatives, but when targets are missed and failures are exposed they are less keen to get involved.


If we are to be taken seriously about tackling health inequality and extending healthy life expectancy then the figures must be scrutinised.


We cannot afford to bury our head in the sand.


If the facts of the situation are not established there is a danger that the health inequalities in Scotland will increase and those who need the support the most won’t get it.


Ultimately, it will be the more disadvantaged members of our society that will pay the price.