June 2014 edition of Healthier Scotland, the E-Bulletin of the Socialist Health Association Scotland.

Health Inequalities

Tackling inequality in health and disease and in life and death is, arguably, the greatest challenge we face as a society. There is still time to submit views to the Commission established by Neil Findlay MSP to find some solutions. Scottish Labour’s new manifesto puts health inequality at the centre of party policy. A series of reports published in recent weeks on poverty and inequality in Scotland is summarised at UNISON’s Public Works blog. They include some recommendations for action as well.
Giving evidence to the Health Committee the public health minister acknowledged that health inequality remained a “blight on our society”, but said it was “not a problem to be solved by just the NHS” as its genesis was from social inequality. For example, one in four baby boys in Glasgow won’t live to 65.

ScotSID report shows Suicide is now three times more common in deprived areas.

Public Health

In Scotland, more than a quarter of a million people have diabetes, costing the NHS more than £1bn a year. While numbers haven’t come down, obesity has slightly and there are some signs that the Scottish research strategy is having a positive impact.

Council leaders point to poor food labelling, with high salt and sugar content in foods marketed as ‘healthy’. However, Glasgow Games chiefs appoint drink firms as sponsors while 300 Glaswegians die every year from alcohol related illnesses. And children in Scotland are among the least active in the world.

MSP’s approve deregulation of food safety with visual only inspection of pigs. Thousands of tumours and abscesses to be minced into sausages and pies.

Scottish Social Attitudes survey revealed an increase in people who thought it was easier to enjoy a social event if they had a drink, up from 35% in 2004 to 39% in 2013. Although more recognise the public health problems and support action like minimum pricing. Alcohol is 60% cheaper in real terms.

Mental Health

The treatment of patients with dementia has come into focus with a damning  Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland  report and a call for the illness to be given greater priority in treatment and research. Patients with mental health conditions are dying too young and care is not on parity with physical illness, says a BMA report.

NHS Scotland

How Scotland rejected marketisation, a history lesson from Dave Watson. When we see what’s happening to the NHS in England, we should remember to say, thanks very much comrades!

Stopping Pfizer taking over AstraZeneca isn’t enough. Scott Nicholson on why we need a publicly owned pharmaceutical option. Are patient groups being used by big pharma as marketing ploys?

Pressures on A&E departments have been well documented in recent months. Even the head of NHS Scotland now admits concerns over moving patients. A particular problem in Highland with ambulances stretched to cover a shortage of out of hours GPs. Hairmyres also turning patients away and Aberdeen doctors warn of unsafe care.

Hospital doctor hours to be cut with seven night rotas banned after doctor died on journey home from work. After cutting medical trainee posts, numbers are set to be increased to cope with demand. Meanwhile, health boards spend up to £9m a year on plugging staffing gaps with agency nurses, while more than 1500 permanent posts are lying vacant.

Experts point to the dangers of boarding patients in unsuitable wards due to the pressure on beds. Dr Richard Simpson MSP highlights poor data collection. One example of many in Glasgow.

MSP’s on Public Audit Committee say patients not being treated quickly enough after Audit Scotland investigation. Waiting list guarantees not met. Chronic pain patients waiting two years. The OECD report Scotland is losing more beds than other countries.

The cost of clinical negligence cases in NHS Scotland has doubled in six years to £36m.

Financial problems at the State Hospital, Carstairs are leading to potential ward closures.

The public are getting more cynical about health polices they believe are politically motivated, according to a new poll for the BMA. However, an official survey of almost 1,500 people found that 61% were either very or quite satisfied with NHS Scotland, compared with 40% in 2005.

All opposition MSPs combined to support vote of no confidence in the Health Secretary after he directed a change of policy in his own constituency.

Social Care

Health and care integration is right in principle but it will take more than new structures to deliver quality care. One of those challenges is the national disgrace of social care in many homecare and residential settings as explained in UNISON Scotland’s, Time to Care report. This was also the subject of SHA Scotland’s succesful motion to the 2014 Scottish Labour Party conference.

The Self-Directed Support Bill comes into force. The rhetoric of choice and control through personalisation is often used as cover for a deteriorating service and isolation for service users.

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