The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh has responded to the new Health Foundation Report into health inequalities in Scotland. The Leave No one Behind review indicates that in 2019, there was a 24-year gap in the time spent in good health between people living in the most and least deprived 10% of local areas in Scotland. Among a range of other detailed findings, it identifies that infant mortality and avoidable mortality rates among females in the most deprived fifth of areas are also increasing.

Professor Andrew Elder, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, said:

This comprehensive report is a devastating account of the lack of progress being made in tackling health inequalities in Scotland, which our College considers to be one of the greatest challenges we face as a society.

 It is clearly deeply concerning that men living in Scotland’s most deprived communities will die more than 13 years earlier than those from the least deprived areas– and women almost a decade earlier.

This review must remind us all  to explore the fundamental drivers of these unjust differences in health and life expectancy, and implement additional measures and bold approaches to minimise and rectify them.

Our College is committed to working with governments and all other stakeholders to make progress – it is worth remembering that efforts to address inequalities can also help to reduce the pressures on acute health services in Scotland.

Professor Sir Michael Marmot, Professor of Epidemiology at University College London, said:

Social inequalities in life expectancy were increasing before the pandemic. During the pandemic these inequalities increased further. Particularly shocking, is that life expectancy for people in the most deprived areas is declining.

In a rich country we expect health to improve year on year. The fact that it has been deteriorating for poorer people, well before the pandemic, means that society is failing them in a fundamental way.



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