Health Inequalities

Monday 5th January 2015


For my first column of 2015, I would like to start by wishing you all a Happy New Year. I hope you had enough time to recharge your batteries, enjoy the company of family and friends and reflect on your plans for the year ahead.

This week many of you will be returning to work. Well, politicians will be getting back to the day job too. And at the top of the agenda in Parliament will be the publication of the health committee’s report into health inequalities.

Our investigation has found that despite significant investment in tackling health inequalities in Scotland since devolution, the gap between rich and poor remains persistently wide.

Successive Governments have made this a political priority and invested significant amounts of public money in tackling this complex issue. But sadly none have made any significant difference.

The Committee has also concluded that while the NHS has a key role to play in tackling health inequalities, it cannot do so successfully on its own and the efforts to address the issue need to be made on a much wider number of fronts.

Our NHS can offer a sticking plaster, but without a new approach, we will not tackle the root causes of inequality and improve the health outcomes of thousands of people across Scotland.

Low pay, poor housing, a lack of jobs and educational opportunities all contribute to poor health. For real progress to be made significant efforts will be required across these areas and by different agencies collaborating and working more effectively together.

If there is one issue that the Parliament gives focus to in the New Year, then I hope it’s this.