A Ministerial Task Force on Health Inequalities led by the Minister for Public Health was established in 2007 to identify and prioritise practical actions to reduce the most significant and widening health inequalities in Scotland. The Task Force recognised the need to monitor progress in tackling health inequalities in the longer term as well as managing short and medium term progress.
A technical advisory group was set up in early 2008 to advise the Task Force on long-term monitoring of health inequalities. The group recommended a range of indicators to be monitored over time, and most recently met in 2015 to review the list of indicators and methods adopted in this report.
The Task Force reviewed progress shown by these indicators in 2012. It noted that, despite much commitment and resource, the scale of health inequalities had not reduced.
Evidence from a policy review conducted by NHS Health Scotland illustrated that, whilst the publication of Equally Well in 2008 marked the desire to shift focus to the broader social and economic determinants of health, rather than solely focusing on NHS-based solutions, there had in practice been a tendency towards focusing on 'downstream' activities (dealing with people after they have acquired problems) rather than dealing with issues 'upstream' in order to prevent these problems arising in the first place.
The Task Force was asked to reflect on changes in the way that people and communities were being engaged in decisions that affect them, and the impact of the Christie Commission on how health inequalities are being tackled. Its most recent report incorporated NHS Health Scotland's policy review of interventions to address inequalities.
An Inequalities Action Group was established to oversee delivery of actions that contribute to reducing health inequalities, including a focus on developing social capital; increasing the capacity of Community Planning Partnerships to take the lead in addressing health inequality; a specific focus on the 15-44 age group; and the development of a Place Standard to improve people's living environments.
Email: Craig Kellock
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