Baillie: Vulnerable Scots ‘pay price’ for health inequalities inaction

Dame Jackie Baillie has said poorer Scots are being ‘left behind’.

Vulnerable Scots ‘pay price’ for health inequalities inaction, says Scottish Labour PA Media

Vulnerable people cannot afford to “pay the price” of the Scottish Government’s failure to tackle health inequalities, Scottish Labour has argued.

Scottish Labour’s deputy leader and health spokeswoman, Dame Jackie Baillie, has said ministers have a “record of shame” as figures show stagnating levels of inequalities among the most in need of healthcare.

The party has highlighted figures from Public Health Scotland, published last year, which showed 385,554 patients in the most deprived areas attended A&E, compared to 202,259 of their more affluent counterparts – a difference of 183,295.

More children from deprived backgrounds were referred to Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (Camhs) last year – 26.4% from the most vulnerable communities compared with 15.7% from areas with the least deprivation.

Deputy leader of the Scottish Labour party Dame Jackie Baillie.PA Media

There was also a higher prevalence of coronary heart disease among the most deprived, 78% more than their affluent counterparts. Cancer mortality rates were also 74% higher.

Baillie said: “After 17 years in power, health inequalities remain deeply entrenched in Scotland – with those from poorer backgrounds still more likely to suffer chronic issues.

“From their greater reliance on emergency medical care and the need for specialist mental health support to poorer outcomes for cancer patients and higher alcohol and drug-related deaths, it is clear that poorer Scots are being left behind.

“This is a record of shame for the SNP Government that has been tragically 17 years in the making.

“The fact is that vulnerable Scots can no longer afford to pay the human price of this SNP Government.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Austerity, the pandemic and the cost crisis have all contributed to slowing progress in health outcomes over the past decade.

“We are using all powers and resources available to tackle poverty, reduce inequality, increase healthy life expectancy and create a fairer Scotland.

“Our public health initiatives are complemented by wide-ranging action to reduce poverty and mitigate the impact of the rise in the cost of living.

“By increasing fair access to employment, education and training, and improving our physical and social environments, we make people’s lives better.

“Research commended by internationally-renowned public health experts estimated that our world-leading minimum unit pricing (MUP) policy has saved hundreds of lives, likely averted hundreds of alcohol-attributable hospital admissions and contributed to reducing health inequalities.”

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