Today I spoke at the launch event for the Health Inequality Commission report which will set the foundations for Scottish Labours health policy moving forward.
Commissioned by the Scottish Labour Party the report has highlighted examples of where inequality and life chances have impacted on poor population health and sets out a number of practical actions, which cut across almost all government portfolios and which can assist in beginning to tackle these problems.
The report written by an independent commission chaired by Dr David Conway from the Socialist Health Association Scotland took evidence from a wide range of organisations and held evidence sessions in communities across Scotland.
The commission has used the report to suggest the basis of solutions to some of Scotland’s biggest and most persistent health inequalities. The commission states that as a nation we are good at identifying and highlighting these inequalities but that we have a poor track record of finding solutions for them and Scottish Labour is clear that this needs to change.
The report also makes clear that where, all too often, health inequalities have been written off as a problem of individual behaviour this is no longer acceptable. We I am clear that we cannot continue to allow governments to use this approach as an excuse for failing to get to grips with big issues and inequalities affecting our population health.
The report sets itself apart form other population health enquiries by exploring other policy issues such as employment and income which it identifies as being fundamentally linked to good or bad health outcomes.
Areas such as low pay, underemployment, job insecurity and zero-hours contracts are discussed in depth, as is the impact that a real Scottish Living Wage could have on tackling inequities and poor population health.
Other issues covered by the report include: the importance of community democracy and local community planning, housing, public transport, sports and recreational facilities, education and early years and quality primary care.
I thoroughly welcome this holistic approach to health policy which the Scottish Labour Party will both embrace and take forward when formulating our future health policy and creating a transformative agenda for Scotland – where we shift from health inequalities to health equity.
You can read the full report here: HealthInequalitiesCommission_ReportforScottishLabourParty_Oct2015