"The unstoppable momentum that comes when leaders and consumers, old hands and newcomers - when so many start to see things differently." - Elspeth Murray
We have been hugely encouraged by the positive reception for Equally Well, the report of the Ministerial Task Force on Health Inequalities, which we published jointly on 19 June 2008. The Task Force's work has been commended in the Parliament, locally by those who will deliver many of the changes that Equally Well recommends, and internationally.
Equally Well sets an ambitious and urgent agenda - all the more important in difficult economic times when our health and wellbeing are precious assets. Action on many fronts is already underway. We know that community planning partners across Scotland have been assessing their current plans and actions in the light of the Equally Well recommendations. Local partnerships are already identifying where they can step up their efforts, with a view to reducing unfair and unjust inequalities in health within Scotland's population.
"People are seeing this as a radical call to action", as one of our local test sites put it.
We have had a great response to our request for test sites that will explore how change can be delivered in new ways. Test sites will build from small steps to make real and sustainable progress with complex problems, in line with the big themes of Equally Well.
The purpose of this implementation plan is to support further progress and change, both nationally and locally. The plan describes how the Government and community planning partnerships can and will turn the Task Force's recommendations into action in the short to medium term and identifies which organisations can most helpfully be involved at each stage. The action sections include clear expectations of key service providers, across the themes covered in Equally Well.
An important contribution from the Government and COSLA is to clarify how current high-level social policy developments on children's early years, tackling poverty and reducing health inequalities fit together, so that action within each high level framework is consistent and mutually reinforcing.
We look forward to working with the Task Force again in 2010 to review progress with implementing Equally Well.
Shona Robison MSP, Minister for Public Health
Councillor Ronnie McColl, Co SLA Spokesperson on Health and Wellbeing