The Scottish Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and Facilities (“the Scottish Academy”) is calling for political parties to commit to ending all forms of health inequality, ahead of next year’s Scottish Parliament election.
The Scottish Academy represents the collective clinical and professional views of Scotland’s medical professions. It is warning that the lasting health impact of COVID-19 on Scotland’s poorest households – as well as on other vulnerable groups including the elderly and those living with disabilities - could be devastating unless mitigating action is taken by politicians.
The health impact of COVID-19 on low income households is already emerging. Research by the National Records of Scotland revealed that people from the most deprived parts of Scotland are more than twice as likely to die from COVID-19 as those from affluent communities. And the highest proportion of confirmed COVID-19 cases (24%) was accounted for by those living in the 20% most deprived areas, according to analysis for the Scottish Government.
The Scottish Academy, has proposed five key measures in its election manifesto which could help reduce health inequality in Scotland:
- Ensuring that everyone has income at a level that supports healthy living, through policies such as progressive taxation and guaranteed minimum income.
- Ensuring that everyone in Scotland has access to a high-quality education and that any barriers to higher educational attainment is removed for all groups.
- Improving access to active transport across Scotland.
- Taking bold action to address the societal damage of drug and alcohol misuse.
- A mandatory health impact assessment integrated into policy making in all Scottish Government departments.
These proposals recognise that the social determinants of health are as important as a high-quality NHS.
The Scottish Academy also believes that access to the NHS in Scotland can be improved by investing in digital resources, particularly for the most isolated in society, such as the elderly and those who live in remote and rural areas.
And their manifesto calls for an increase in the number of medical student places, to meet the needs for an increased medical workforce in the NHS in Scotland.