The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and Facilities is calling for political parties to commit to ending all forms of health inequality ahead of next year’s Scottish Parliament election.
The Academy represents the collective clinical and professional views of Scotland’s medical professions. It is warning that the lasting health impact of COVID-19 on Scotland’s poorest households and other vulnerable groups could be devastating unless mitigating action is taken by policy-makers.
Research by the National Records of Scotland revealed that people from the most deprived parts of Scotland are more than twice as likely to die from COVID-19 as those from affluent communities. And the highest proportion of confirmed COVID-19 cases (24%) was accounted for by those living in the 20 per cent most deprived areas.
The Scottish Academy, has proposed five key measures in its election manifesto which could help reduce health inequality in Scotland:
Ensuring everyone has an income that supports healthy living.
Ensuring everyone has access to high-quality education and remove barriers to higher education.
Improving access to transport.
Taking bold action to address the societal damage of drug and alcohol misuse.
A mandatory health impact assessment integrated into policy making.
The organisation also believes that access to the NHS in Scotland can be improved by investing in digital resources and it calls for a greater number of medical student places to meet the needs for an increased medical workforce.
Dr Miles Mack, Chair of the Scottish Academy, said: “This has been a challenging year for healthcare services and staff in Scotland, as it has been around the world.
“The impact of coronavirus has been felt by us all. However, there is emerging evidence that the pandemic has disproportionately impacted people in Scotland’s most deprived communities.
“The Scottish Academy believes that urgent work must be undertaken to mitigate this, including policies to reduce the impact of the social determinants of ill health.
“In the lead up to the election next May, we are asking political parties to adopt our manifesto call for a commitment to end all forms of health inequality. We are also calling for better health by prevention, investment to build on new ways of working and better collaboration across all sectors in Scottish society.