Socialist Health Association
Local Government Elections 2012
Local Authority Charter for Health
This section is under development and views on the actions local councils could take to improve health would be welcome.
SHA Scotland believes that to tackle Scotland's underlying health problems we need to focus on the poverty and inequality that underlies poor health. Inadequate housing, low confidence and wellbeing, low pay and unemployment all impact on health. This is evidenced by the fact that children from poor backgrounds are more likely to leave school with no positive destination and this also affects their health. Furthermore, smoking, poor diets, excessive alcohol intake and drug use are more prevalent in areas of deprivation. We therefore need to take co-ordinated partnership working across policy areas if we are to make a real impact on Scotland’s most persistent health problems.
This means local authorities have a key role to play in improving Scotland's health. Health is not the sole preserve of NHS Scotland. The following are some of the actions local authorities could take to improve the health of their communities:
· Adopt a broad public health approach to all policies including a health assessment of all major decisions and strategies. Apply an 'inequality lens' to everything.
· Support greater collaboration between health and social care to deliver an effective and seamless service.
· Place a focus on preventative spending to tackle inequality.
· Improve early years intervention including the development of family centres
· Free healthy school meals and breakfast clubs and ending commercial incentives for unhealthy eating.
· At least two hours of physical activity per week in schools together with safe walk or cycle to school schemes.
· Comprehensive health education in schools including sensitive issues like sex education, alcohol and drugs at an early stage.
· Healthier lifestyles should become the easy choice including through effective food policy initiatives like UNISON Scotland’s ‘Food for Good’ Charter.
· Support for the Scottish Living Wage of £7.20 per hour.
· Create a healthy workplace because councils that proactively improve their working environments, by organising work in ways that promote health, all adverse health-related outcomes, including absence and injuries, decrease.
· Ensure that employees have reasonable access to occupational health services that are not only cost effective but also maintain staff confidence in both their quality and independence.
· Support the principle of the right to independent living for all care users. But personalisation should not simply be used as an excuse for cost cutting and a race to the bottom in social care procurement.
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