A report released by the Scottish Government today shows that health inequalities remain one of Scotland’s biggest challenges. Life expectancy trends in Scotland are no longer improving, and this is impacting disproportionately on our disadvantaged communities. This report shows that mortality rates amongst young and middle-aged adults is getting worse for many, and that inequalities are growing. We know that it is only by addressing the underlying causes of health inequalities – an unequal distribution of income, power and wealth – that they be reduced, and as a result, improve the trend in stalling life expectancy.
Gerry McCartney, Head of the Public Health Observatory at NHS Health Scotland said:
“The trend in mortality rates for adults aged under 75 years has changed. Until recently they had been improving year on year. Since around 2014 these have not improved at all, and mortality has gone up for people living in the poorest 40% of areas. Although unfair and preventable, it is clear that rising inequalities in our poorest areas are driving the stall in life expectancy.
“The circumstances in which we live should not impact on health so much that the right to live a long and healthy life is compromised by how much money we have. Undoing the causes of inequality is essential if we are to improve Scotland’s health and ensure people live in good health, for longer. It is also important that we collectively recognise the implications of the changed trend in life expectancy since 2012 on public health and take action.
“We are working with partners across Scotland and the UK to complete a programme of research to develop recommendations for an appropriate response, including measures to reduce poverty and fund public services to ensure everyone’s needs are met.”