Health inequalities & policy

Since 1997, the principles and practice of community development have helped shape certain aspects of the policy agenda in developing partnership working between the NHS and community and voluntary sectors.  

The White Paper ‘Designed to Care' (December 1997) was the first policy from the then Scottish Office that highlighted the benefits to health improvement from patient focus and community involvement.  This was followed by the then Scottish Executive with a number of national policies that recognise the value that patients, carers, community members and the wider public in shaping and implementing services related to health and wellbeing. 

Our present government has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to partnership working with communities which is strongly reflected in Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill. These policies have emerged from different departments within national government, but primarily through departments responsible for health, housing, regeneration, adult education local government.  In recent years the public health policy arena has underpinned these approaches within the context of building community resilience and asset-based health improvement.

A number of recent statements have been made by senior policy makers in Scotland, all highlighting the country's continuing health inquealities.  For example, Health Scotland’s CEO, Gerry McLaughlin, has provided this excellent narrative and illustration on health inequalities.  The CHEX policy briefing, Tackling Scotland's health inequalities: A time for radical change?, brings together some recent policy statements and research findings around health inequalities in Scotland, and argues that community-led health must be an integral part of the shift in stategy that is needed to effectively tackle health inequalities in Scotland.  

Policies that have supported the implementation of community development to health improvement and tackling health inequalities include: 
  • Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Act 2014
  • A Fairer, Healthier Scotland (2012)
  • Achieving a Sustainable Future (2011)  
  • The Healthcare Quality Strategy for NHS Scotland (2010)
  • Getting it Right for Every Child & Young Person (2010)
  • Curriculum for Excellence (2009)
  • Scottish Community Empowerment Action Plan (2009)
  • Towards a Mentally Flourishing Scotland: Policy And Action Plan 2009-2011 (2009)
  • Achieving Our Potential:  A Framework to tackle poverty and income inequalities (2008)
  • 'Equally Well' Report of the Ministerial Task Force on health inequalities (2008)
  • Better Health, Better Care (2007)
  • Delivering Scotland's Health (2005)
  • Closing the Opportunity Gap (2003)
  • Partnership in Care (2003)
  • Improving Health in Scotland: The Challenge (2003)
  • Community Wellbeing - Capacity Building in Mental Health (2003)
  • Local Government Bill: Guidance Effective Community Engagement (2002)
  • Patient Focus: Public Involvement Framework (2001)
  • Nursing for Health: A Review of the Contribution of Nurses, Midwives and Health Visitors to Improving the Public's Health in Scotland (2000)
  • Our National Health: A Plan for Action, A Plan for Change (2000)
  • Social Justice - a Scotland Where Everyone Matters (1999)
  • Working Towards a Healthier Scotland (1999)
  • Designed to Care (1997)