Tackling health inequalities


Ways to narrow the health gap between the richest and poorest people in Scotland will be suggested by a new group of experts.

The Ministerial Taskforce on Health Inequalities meets for the first time today to examine all available evidence and to suggest new or improved ways to reduce the difference in life expectancy and health among the whole population. 

Chaired by Public Health Minister Michael Matheson, the Taskforce includes the Chief Medical Officer, clinicians, health experts, local government representative and other Ministers. The work will build on the Equally Well report of the last Ministerial taskforce in 2008.

Mr Matheson said:

“While health in Scotland continues to improve and people live longer lives, health inequalities are still worse than in the rest of western Europe. Of all the challenges facing Scotland, the health gap between our richest and poorest communities is among the greatest. Inequality wastes human potential, while reducing inequalities will improve Scotland’s wellbeing, lead to higher productivity and less pressure on public finances.

”The challenge for the Taskforce is to review the effectiveness of current policy, to respond to new information and knowledge about what has worked to narrow inequalities and to hear to community views on the best way ahead.

“While Scotland is rightly seen as a world leader in public health legislation and policy, the main reasons for health inequality are income and power, so addressing these issues will be part of our overall approach. Delivering on this agenda takes leadership at all levels and I am determined to ensure the Scottish Government does what it can in the current political and economic circumstances to narrow the health gap.”

The Taskforce is expected to report in summer 2013.

Membership of the Ministerial Taskforce on Health Inequalities is:

Michael Matheson, Minister for Public Health (Chair)

Aileen Campbell, Minister for Children and Young People

Margaret Burgess, Minister for Housing and Welfare

Angela Constance, Minister for Youth Employment

Derek Mackay, Minister for Local Government and Planning

Roseanna Cunningham, Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs

Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Environment and Climate Change

Sir Harry Burns, Chief Medical Officer for Scotland

Margaret Burns, Chair of NHS Health Scotland

Dr Charles Winstanley, Chair of NHS Chairs Scotland

Andrew Muirhead, Chief Executive, Inspiring Scotland

Professor Carol Tannahill, Director, Glasgow Centre for Population Health

Cllr Peter Johnston, COSLA Spokesperson for Health and Wellbeing