Whilst Glasgow may no longer be the sick man of Europe, it still lags behind the rest of Scotland and Europe with a lower life expectancy and healthy life expectancy.
To tackle Glasgow and Clyde’s poor public health record, six priority areas for action are to be taken forward over the next decade.
The ‘Big Six’ actions were unveiled in the Board’s public health strategy, Turning the Tide through Prevention, launched today.
With all the pressures on the NHS due to increasing demand as people live longer, the strategy sets out the continuing importance of the NHS Board’s role in prevention of disease and working with others to address the fundamental causes of ill-health in the population.
Launching the strategy, Director of Public Health, Dr Linda de Caestecker, said: “We have made great strides in improving health in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, supported by key measures such as the smoking ban in 2006 and minimum unit pricing for alcohol.
“We already have excellent health improvement services to support people to adopt healthy lifestyles but more needs to change if we are to increase how long people live in good health.
“People living in Greater Glasgow and Clyde not only have lower life expectancies than those in the rest of Scotland, they also have lower ‘healthy life expectancies’, meaning they live more of their shorter lives in poor health.
“Life expectancy is affected chiefly by socio-economic factors, starting even before birth and influencing education, employment, health behaviours and patterns of healthcare use.
“Some people argue that influencing these factors is not the role of the NHS but this strategy shows how important the role of the NHS is through prevention, advocacy and also in its role as an employer and procurer of services.
“Inequalities in income, health and quality of life persist and in some parts of Greater Glasgow and Clyde they are even widening.
“This will not be easy to change in the current economic climate but the NHS must understand its crucial role in reporting how income and environment are affecting health in this area and how our services and our advocacy can address this..”
Turning the Tide through Prevention sets out how the Board will work with partners, communities and individuals over the next ten years to improve the health and wellbeing of the population.
It advocates an approach where there is a shift in investment from treatment to prevention to halt the onset of ill-health and increase the healthy life expectancy of the population …. and at the same time, tackle the challenges of increasing demands on health services.
Dr de Caestecker continued: “As well as being unjust, poverty also contributes to increasing demands on our health and social care system. Poverty, for example, is strongly associated with increased use of emergency and unscheduled care.
“Health and social care services cannot adequately meet the demands of the future. Prevention and early intervention will be key to helping people stay in good health for as long as possible.
“Our public health strategy will create the impetus for this change. Every strategy, plan or policy developed by the health board should have a stronger focus on prevention. This strategy also advocates a Health in All Policies approach meaning for example that all local authority plans should consider their impact on active travel or mental health”
Dr de Caestecker added: “This strategy is a different type of plan because it will be further developed and implemented in collaboration with local people, community groups and organisations.
“We want people to tell us what they need to live healthier lives. The strategy provides a spring board for discussions with our partners, including communities, local authorities and the Scottish Government, on activities to improve health to tackle inequalities and we look forward to developing implementation plans that will be developed in a new, trusting and collaborative way.”