The Director of Public Health for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has called on all agencies to work together to tackle the very real effects of poverty on four vulnerable sections of our society.
Dr Linda De Caestecker’s call was backed by Sir Harry Burns, Chief Medical Officer for Scotland following the launch of her fourth biennial report – ‘Building momentum for change’.
Dr de Caestecker’s report focuses on disadvantaged families, adolescents, older people and vulnerable people – prisoners and looked after children.
She said: “As NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde residents continue to feel the effects of poverty I am calling on for a greater focus on supporting disadvantaged families, adolescents, older people and two specific groups of vulnerable people – prisoners and looked after children.
“I have focused on three stages in life where providing support for health and wellbeing can often have positive benefits. I have also highlighted two vulnerable groups as they face a greater risk of poverty and disadvantage.
“While poverty is about lack of income it is also about social exclusion and people who live in poverty are made to feel different and excluded from normal patterns of life. In Glasgow city, one in every three children lives in poverty.”
Chief Medical Officer Sir Harry Burns said: “Tackling inequalities in our society and the underlying causes of poverty – income inequality, our physical and social environments lie out with the health system. We need a shift in emphasis from dealing with the consequences of inequalities to tackling the causes.
“By identifying some of our most vulnerable groups, as in this report, we can focus on including them and working to reduce inequalities specific to them. Working with partner agencies is key to this and the Scottish Government remains committed to tackling these issues together.”
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has implemented a number of schemes which have already made an impact on reducing the inequalities for these four groups. Dr de Caestecker is calling on public agencies to work together to build on this existing work and further reduce the inequalities gap as well as presenting information to inform public attitudes towards poverty and welfare reform.
Work already underway by NHSGGC includes:
• Supporting disadvantaged families through a range of initiatives such as, Healthy Babies Programme which includes a range of support for families such as, The Family Nurse Partnership, Special Needs in Pregnancy and Parents and Children Together (PACT). In addition the Healthier Wealthier Children Programme has already received 4,844 referrals, with households in need gaining more than £4 million in lost income.
• Supporting adolescents by working with our partner organisations we have developed an approach to improving mental health and wellbeing in children and young people by offering local networks of services across education and community settings. We also have a strong focus on supporting school health promotion with local school health co-ordinator roles funded within each CH(C)P.
• Promoting healthy aging by continuing to providing Keep Well consultation health checks for older people. Further develop our work with partners to provide local community based health, social and activity groups such as Still Game in East Renfrewshire which offers people over 60 years of age the opportunity to take part in a short programme of weekly activity sessions at St Mirren Football Club. Another successful programme is Revive (Glasgow City South) which is a 10 week programme for over 50s offering taster sessions of locally available activities such as exercise, arts and crafts and discussion on health topics.
• The health of adults in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde prison settings by implementing a prison-based team to develiver Keep Well health checks in each prison. We have also trained staff in each prison in smoking cessation approaches that match our community services and are working to significantly increase the number of smoking cessation groups. We are also a partner in the One Glasgow initiative with Strathclyde Police to reduce offending among young people while addressing health needs and in piloting a women’s justice centre in Glasgow
• “Getting it Right” for Looked After and Accommodated Children and Young People by providing a range of specialist services which support LACYP – for example, Renfrewshire Health Improvement staff have been working with the local authority to support the Kibble residential and secure unit in Paisley to become a health promoting care home.
Notes to Editors
‘Building momentum for change’ was launched at a major health conference in Heart of Scotstoun Community Centre in Glasgow on 17 December.
For a full copy of the report, go to www.nhsggc.org.uk/dphreport
For further information either telephone 0141 201 4429 or email [email protected].
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Pic: Dr Linda de Caestecker, Director of Public Health, NHSGGC