Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Councils and health inequality

SHA Scotland has long argued that Local Government has a central role to play in reducing health inequality in Scotland. We therefore welcome COSLA and NHS Scotland’s new guide for councillors to support them in this role.

The Christie Review highlighted the importance of reforming public services to ensure that public sector bodies work together and focus more money on preventative spending rather than trying to fix what has already gone wrong. This will both save money in the long run and en-sure that money is spent effectively.

The guide’s key suggestions for action to address health inequalities:

·         Provide services universally but with scale and intensity that are proportionate to the level of disadvantage

·         Prioritise disadvantaged groups

·         Provide accessible services ( i.e. good transport links)

·         Offer intensive support

·         Do not only target geographical areas defined as deprived: you will miss the vulnerable who live elsewhere

·         Take into consideration that rural areas have people experiencing inequalities that may be harder to identify

·         Local policy should not be discriminatory

·         Ensure that local agencies work together with common aims and measures to reduce health inequalities

Trade unions will find the section on councillors’ responsibilities as employers in relation to healthy working lives useful. The most commonly reported reasons for workplace absence are musculoskeletal disorders and stress, depression or anxiety. The paper recommends the Healthy Working Lives Awards Programmes step by step guide to achieving a healthier workplace and highlights work done at Inverclyde council like smoking cessation classes, mental health support groups and even walking routes to work.

Overall a very useful resource.

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