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by Tom Freeman
12 November 2018
Prevention needs greater policy focus, says Health and Sport Committee

Lewis Macdonald at Health and Sport Committee - Scottish Parliament

Prevention needs greater policy focus, says Health and Sport Committee

Scottish Government policy has not shifted resource from treating ill health to preventing it, despite longstanding ambitions, a group of MSPs has warned.

In a new report, the Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee said services needed “meaningful indicators” to measure the success of preventative measures.

The NHS was “over-reliant on tackling existing problems” rather than preventing them from happening, it said.

The report comes as the Scottish Government is looking to refresh the health service’s National Performance Framework, which is how it measures success.

But the committee added: “It is however clear the NHS and Integrated Joint Boards cannot reduce health inequalities entirely on their own, and the efforts to address the issue need to be made on a much wider number of fronts.

“We therefore recommend the Scottish Government consider assessing and monitoring all policies across all portfolios for their impact on health inequalities.”

Convener Lewis MacDonald MSP said: “We’ve all heard the old adage that prevention is better than cure. The preventative agenda – spending money now with the intention of reducing public spend on negative outcomes in the future – is nothing new.

“However, what this inquiry has found is that there simply is not enough activity within Scotland to support this. It is imperative that across all policy areas focus is prioritised on preventing people becoming ill with diseases we know are avoidable.

“By doing this we can also start reducing health inequality and whilst the health service can’t fix everything, it must play its role in tackling this fundamental issue.”

The report highlighted eight specific areas that could benefit from preventative action, including type 2 diabetes, substance misuse, sexual health, detecting cancer early, neurological conditions, optometry services, sport and leisure trusts and clean air.

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