Although improving, average life expectancy in Scotland is still significantly lower than in other countries of the UK and the rest of Western Europe. There are substantial differences in health outcomes between the most and least deprived areas in Scotland.
We aim to reduce the health gap between the most deprived community and our wealthiest.
- working towards a Scotland where everyone eats well and has a healthy weight
- working towards reducing health inequalities
- reviewing our healthy working lives strategy as part of our work on health, safety and wellbeing
- working on a programme of public health reform which includes the establishment of Public Health Scotland in April 2020
- working to improve health and wellbeing in schools
- committed to preventing and reducing alcohol and drugs harm in Scotland
- stubbing out smoking by creating a tobacco-free generation by 2034
- encouraging physical activity and sport
- putting in place a Women's Health Plan through the Programme for Government 2019-2020
We have also:
- defined our public health priorities in 2018
- consulted on proposals to restrict the promotion and marketing of targeted food and drink high in fat, sugar or salt
- consulted on making school food healthier
- published our health literacy action plan 2017-2025 to give people the knowledge, skills, understanding and confidence to use health information
Find out more about what we are doing about illnesses and long-term conditions.
Public Health Reform
Public health reform aims to challenge our current ways of working, put more decisions directly in the hands of citizens and provide support to local communities to develop their own approaches and solutions to local population health challenges.
The main reasons behind the reform are:
- the Public Health Review 2015 which made recommendations to strengthen leadership for the public's health and refocus the public health function in Scotland
- the Health and Social Care Delivery Plan 2016 which set out the actions Scottish Government and COSLA will lead to deliver the recommendations from the Public Health Review
- the Christie commission on the future delivery of public services 2011 identified the need for closer partnership working in public services, to integrate service provision and to prioritise expenditure on public services which prevent negative outcomes
To deliver the vision for public health reform, Scottish Government and COSLA will:
- agree public health priorities for Scotland that are important public health concerns and that we can do something about
- establish a new national public health body for Scotland bringing together expertise from NHS Health Scotland, Health Protection Scotland and Information Services Division
- support different ways of working to develop a whole system approach to improve health and reduce health inequalities
More information is available on the public health reform website.
Public Health Scotland
We are establishing Public Health Scotland as a new public health body in April 2020.
The new body is being designed and created using a collaborative approach. This has involved stakeholders from across the whole system including:
- local government
- community and voluntary organisations
- the wider public sector
Creating a culture of health in Scotland will require effective leadership nationally and locally. Public Health Scotland will bring together public health intelligence, health protection and health improvement expertise and knowledge in a single body.
The new body will provide a clear vision and strong voice for the public's health in Scotland. It will be accountable to Scottish Government and COSLA and will support, enable and provide challenge to the whole system of partners in the public, private and third sector.
Bills and legislation
The Public Health etc (Scotland) Act 2008 updated the law on public health and enabled Scottish Ministers, health boards and local authorities to better protect public health in Scotland.
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