In 2007, a Ministerial Task Force on Health Inequalities led by the Minister for Public Health was established to identify and prioritise practical actions to reduce the most significant and widening health inequalities in Scotland. The Task Force recognised the need to monitor progress in tackling health inequalities in the longer term as well as managing short- and medium-term progress.
The October 2013 report is the sixth annual publication on headline indicators following the Equally Well (2008) report of the Ministerial Task Force. The gap in health outcomes between the most deprived and least deprived areas of Scotland is reported for a variety of indicators in both absolute and relative terms. The latest figures include data up to 2011 for most indicators.
The main findings are as follows:
- The highest level of relative inequality continues to be seen in alcohol-related deaths among those aged 45 to 74 years. However, this rate has fallen to its lowest level in the reporting period (1998 to 2011). Relative inequality levels for first alcohol-related hospital admissions have remained stable since 1997.
- Despite stabilising in recent years, the level of relative inequality for deaths among those aged 15 to 44 years has increased since 1997. A similar pattern can also be seen in deaths among those aged under 75 years.
- Between 1997 and 2011, the death rate for coronary heart disease (CHD) among those aged 45 to 74 years fell by 61%. The reduction was slower in the most deprived areas of Scotland than elsewhere, meaning that relative inequality has increased slightly over the long-term while the absolute inequality gap has narrowed. However, there are signs that relative inequality has stabilised in recent years.
- Despite no clear long term trend, in recent years heart attack hospital admission rates have increased and inequalities widened.
- Over the longer term, most indicators have shown signs of stability in one or both measures. Inequalities in low birthweight are now stabilising having decreased between 2006 and 2008, while other indicators, such as CHD deaths, have stabilised following increases in inequality.
- Additional inequalities information, regarding healthy birthweight babies (babies with an appropriate weight for gestational age) as well as incidence and mortality rates by cancer type, is included in this report for the first time in 2013.
- Full results for all indicators are available in the publication.