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Highlands and Islands Greens
Highlands and Islands Greens

Green MSP Challenges Lack of Joined-Up Government on Health

Friday, January 20th, 2006

A much more joined-up approach to health services is essential if Scotland is to make genuine progress in treatment and prevention said Eleanor Scott, Green MSP for the Highlands and Islands, following the Executive and local councils’ failure to consider the health service impacts of social service work with elderly people.

Dr Scott challenged the Executive in Parliament yesterday about the provision of residential and respite care for elderly people who are too frail to manage at home, but was told that this is solely a matter for local authority social service departments, with no reference to any relevance of the issue to the health service.

Dr Scott said, “The Executive does not take responsibility for the care of our most frail elderly people, saying this is up to local authorities.  However, I am concerned that there is inadequate consideration of the health impacts of such local authority decisions.

“For example, Highland Council social services department is having to undergo a massive budget-slashing exercise, cutting its funding of residential care services, but without consulting local health service professionals about the impacts on the health of the users of these services.  This is concerning, but it is also symptomatic of a much wider problem: the failure by the Executive to consider the health impacts of their policies.

“As a former doctor, and still a member of the British Medical Association, I am supporting the BMA’s call for much more co-ordination over health between different sectors of government, and for health impacts to be assessed routinely.  The Executive claims to believe in joined-up government, but the example of care for the elderly demonstrates that this is simply not happening in practice.”

Notes:

(1) The parliamentary question asked yesterday is as follows:

19 January 2006 Scott (Highlands and Islands) (Green): To ask the Scottish Executive what provision is required to allow frail elderly people who are unable to live in their own homes to remain within their own communities.

(S2O-08751)

Lewis Macdonald:

It is for individual local authorities to determine and meet the care needs of older people, and we are providing councils with £1.6 billion in support for community care the year to help them do just that.

(2) Text of Dr Scott’s motion

S2M-3846 Eleanor Scott (Highlands and Islands) (Green) : Legislate for Better Health — That the Parliament agrees with Dr Peter Terry, chairman of the British Medical Association in Scotland, that a long-term public health strategy can be effective only if there is a co-ordinated approach across all ministerial portfolios; notes that decisions taken in other policy areas have a significant bearing on public health; agrees on the need to develop synergistic policies and cross-departmental co-operation, and calls on the Scottish Executive to introduce a system of routine health impact assessments to be applied to all policies and legislation.