Min­is­ters un­der fire over health in­equal­i­ties spend­ing


The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment has come un­der fire af­ter a min­is­ter con­ceded it was not pos­si­ble to es­ti­mate how much cash had been spent try­ing to re­duce health in­equal­i­ties.

Pub­lic health min­is­ter Joe Fitz­patrick said work to tackl e the prob­lem takes place “across a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of strate­gies and poli­cies”, and “it is not, there­fore, pos­si­ble to es­ti­mate spend on re­duc­ing health in­equal­i­ties”.

Conservati­ves claimed SNP min­is­ters “can’t even tell us how much money” has been in­vested in what was pre­vi­ously de­scribed as a “pri­or­ity” area.

As health sec­re­tary in 2008, Ni­cola Stur­geon said tack­ing the health gap be­tween rich and poor was a “top pri­or­ity” for the gov­ern­ment.

Adam Tomkins, a Tory MSP for Glas­gow, sub­mit­ted a writ­ten ques­tion to min­is­ters ask­ing how much fund­ing had been al­lo­cated to NHS ini­tia­tives aimed at re­duc­ing health in­equal­i­ties over the past decade.

In re­sponse, Mr Fitz­patrick said: “There is a large range of ac­tions and ac­tiv­i­ties de­liv­ered across NHS S cot­land which con­trib­utes, di­rectly and in­di­rectly, to tack­ling health in­equal­i­ties.

“As we noted in our re­sponse to the health and sports’ com­mit­tee’s re­cent re­port on pre­ven­ta­tive ac­tion and pub­lic health, the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment does not seek to dic­tate a sin­gle con­cept of preven­tion and does not re­quire ac­counts based on that.

“Our ap­proach t o health in­equal­i­ties is across a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of strate­gies and poli­cies which – from min­i­mum unit pric­ing for al­co­hol to pro­pos­als to re­strict the mar­ket­ing and pro­mo­tion of high fat, salt and su­gar foods right through to the re­port­ing of In­te­gra­tion Au­thor­i­ties – are clearly about max­imis­ing qual­ity and sus­tain­abil­ity in cur­rent care ar­range­ments and pre­vent­ing fu­ture harm.

“It is not, there­fore, pos­si­ble to es­ti­mate spend on re­duc­ing health in­equal­i­ties.”

Mr Tomkins ac­cused t he SNP of fail­ing to de­liver on the is­sue.

“Ni­cola Stur­geon made a clear com­mit­ment that tack­ling health in­equal­i­ties would be her top pri­or­ity,” he said. “Like me, she rep­re­sents the city of Glas­gow – a city where health i nequal­i­ties re­main st ub­bornly per­sis­tent and where mor­tal­ity is higher than sim­i­lar post- in­dus­trial cities else­where in the UK such as Liver­pool and Manch­ester.

“Yet more than a decade on, her SNP Gov­ern­ment can’t even tell us how much money has been in­vested in this so­called pri­or­ity area.

“Peo­ple in poorer ar­eas are still dy­ing younger, they’re still far more likely to be struck by dis­ease and when that ill­ness oc­curs they’re less likely to sur­vive it.

“This is an SNP Gov­ern­ment which might talk a good game on in­equal­ity and poverty, but the re­al­ity is that it’s fail­ing to de­liver on its prom­ises.”

0 Ni­cola Stur­geon pays a visit to the Golden Ju­bilee Na­tional Hospi­tal in Cy­de­bank yes­ter­day

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