NEW survey findings reveal health across Greater Glasgow is moving onwards and upwards.
The Health and Well-being Survey which took an honest look at the facts behind the figures, showed the health inequality gap between poor and wealthy households is narrowing.
Evelyn Borland, NHS Greater Glasgow's Acting Director for Health Promotion, said: "We are so used to the headlines about Glasgow's dire health problems that we can be in danger of believing the promotion of good health is a hopeless cause.
"The results are very encouraging as, although real problems are still evident, there are positive signs we are making progress."
Evelyn explained that Greater Glasgow NHS Board collects a range of statistical health information on a regular basis, but this generally only provides details of what illnesses people are being treated for and dying from. The Health and Well-being survey, on the other hand, tries to get beneath the stark statistics and find out just how healthy people actually are.
The results show that 70% of people receiving healthcare from NHS Greater Glasgow feel they are encouraged to participate in decisions affecting their health or treatment, while 65% feel they have a say in how services are delivered and 74% believe their views and circumstances are understood and valued.
The minority who feel they have not received adequate information amounts to 10% and in deprived areas this figure stands at 14 %.
So what is being done to further healthy living in Greater Glasgow and make the changes permanent?
Evelyn Borland said: " There are a number of ‘lifestyle targets' regarding smoking, diet, alcohol and physical activity that have been set by the Scottish Executive to which the health service's performance is measured against.
"Smoking stands out as a key challenge. The overall figure for the Greater Glasgow area shows 35% of the population are smokers, with the target being 33% by 2005. However this overall figure hides the extent of the problem in the more deprived communities where 49% of people smoke compared with 27% in wealthier areas.
"The survey results do however suggest that there has been a reduction of 4% overall in smoking. As even a small change in smoking rates would have a significant effect on health in Greater Glasgow, this result is encouraging."
And although the survey results highlight Greater Glasgow's continuing health problems, they provide an optimistic outlook with clear improvements on 1999's figures.
Evelyn added: "Many of the initiatives aimed at improving health can't expect results in the short term and are, in a sense, looking to generational timescales.
"There is currently a huge body of work aimed at improving the health of very young children, such as the Starting Well scheme, projects to increase breastfeeding rates, school breakfast clubs, fruit in schools and the Kool Kids physical activity club."
She added: "Only people aged over 16 were included in the survey, so it would be many years before the results of such work could be made evident using this research method."
.[email protected]For further information contact Caroline Jarvie on 0141 201 4447 or email