Health-related services: tackling health inequalities

While overall health and life expectancy have improved in Scotland, the health gap has widened during the past two decades in common with other Western countries. Almost every physical and mental health indicator demonstrates differences between people with high and low income levels as well as gradients relating to social class and to geographical areas. Differences can also be shown according to people's age, disability, gender, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation and other individual factors.

The Scottish Government’s position on health inequalities, most recently published in Equally Well, the report of a Ministerial Task Force on health inequalities, is that it regards this situation as unacceptable. Equally Well considered not only the evidence for health inequalities in Scotland but also the ways in which health and other public services might respond to the factors that affect people's health. 

The GCPH health related services programme aimed to facilitate the use of evidence-based knowledge and innovative thinking to the response to health inequalities by NHS and partner agencies. It worked in collaboration with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde corporate and Community Health (and Care) Partnership (CH/CP) structures, the Scottish Government Health Department and university departments in order to maximise use of resources and the potential for influencing change.

The health-related services work programme built on an inequalities framework created in its first few years from exploratory research of the different dimensions of CH/CP and health service actions to address inequalities together with research based principles. It continues to study and evaluate actions that health related services can take to address health inequalities, contribute to build capacity of Community Planning partner agencies and to influence policy and strategy developments.  

The aim of this programme was to maximise the impact of health related services on reducing health inequalities by generating, reviewing and supporting the implementation of evidence, evaluating interventions and building capacity for understanding and action.