As a green, I believe that healthy individuals and communities are the basis of a socially just society.
The NHS and our network of social care services in every local authority, is an incredible national asset. But Scotland’s people face unacceptable differences in longevity and years lived in good physical or mental health. These inequalities in health are harmful to individuals and to society. Greens want to take every opportunity to strengthen the foundations for good health especially tackling income inequality and discrimination and prejudice. We believe Scotland can be a society where we fight poverty, build communities and support everyone in need throughout life.
To achieve this, we must put health and well-being at the centre of government, and focus on measures to make our society’s good health, equality and wellbeing the foundation of all Scottish Government policy. Most of the measures we currently use, GDP being the main one, do not deliver this for us. This will help us deliver the first pledge in the NSF manifesto.
Many of our health outcomes are determined by the conditions we face in our early years, sometimes even before birth. So we need policies that tackle child poverty, support healthy pregnancies, build children’s confidence and foster healthy lifestyle habits from a young age. In these ways, by giving our children the best possible start, we can focus on prevention, which is not only more cost effective, but also makes for happier, healthier communities throughout life.
If we look at the health inequalities in Scotland, and indeed across the world, it is very clear that economic inequality is a key driver of illness and poor health. We need economic policies, like a Living Wage, to help address these. We also need policies that will create healthier environments – air pollution kills over 2000 Scots annually and is one of the top avoidable causes according to cutting edge research from Professor David Newby at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh in conjunction with British Heart Foundation. And we need social policies that tackle poor housing, promote active travel, and secure jobs with decent conditions.
Scottish Greens are committed to developing a health service fit for the future. Workforce planning is key to this – meaning we can cope with demographic changes and increased population. Such planning has to include engagement with universities to ensure we have enough nurses in the future, as well as funding these places appropriately, so we don’t lose potential nurses with great life experience simply because they cannot afford to train as mature students. We also need to ensure voices of different service users are heard – we must properly include isolated older people in society and enable them to maintain their independence.
Importantly, we must also ensure parity of of esteem for mental and physical health – in spending, planning, and staffing. We know that between ¼ and ⅓ of all Scots experience poor mental health, and we also know that there are just not enough resources at the moment to support them.
Finally, none of these aspirations for a healthy Scotland would be possible without you, the staff that support us throughout our lives. Greens are committed to treating workers fairly, paying them well and supporting them to develop your careers.