Supporting and Developing Healthy Communities

Question Time — Scottish Executive — General Questions – in the Scottish Parliament at 11:40 am on 8th February 2007.

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Photo of Mark Ballard Mark Ballard Green 11:40 am, 8th February 2007

To ask the Scottish Executive what action it will take following the release of the report of the supporting and developing healthy communities task group. (S2O-11980)

Photo of Andy Kerr Andy Kerr Labour

I have already accepted the recommendations in the report from the community-led supporting and developing healthy communities task group. Officials have established a steering group, which is leading implementation of an action plan to follow up on the recommendations. The group met on 22 January.

Photo of Mark Ballard Mark Ballard Green

I welcome the minister's commitment to accepting the task group's recommendations and to the establishment of the steering group. Given that, according to page 119 of the Scottish Executive's budget, spending on health improvement is set to decline in real terms next year and the year after, will the minister's acceptance of the task group's recommendations have an impact on financial support for health improvement in Scotland?

Photo of Andy Kerr Andy Kerr Labour

The member needs to read the budget a bit more carefully. The £10.3 billion that the Executive will spend on health will be spent on health improvement, not just on the health service. One only has to consider the initiatives that are taking place all around Scotland, for example on school meals, supervised tooth brushing in nurseries and other work in communities, in workplaces and, of course, in the national health service. To say that spending on health improvement is reducing is utter nonsense.

Turning to the substantive point, the Executive's job, in my view, is to give resources, on behalf of the taxpayer, to health boards, which are close to communities and can run exceptional local community projects—as they are doing—thus ensuring that appropriate initiatives are taken. I choose to ensure that the money goes from the Executive to health boards because they are best placed to make judgments on local health interventions, and particularly on health improvement. Such interventions are being provided on a massive scale, and they are currently delivering great results on, for example, our young people's oral hygiene, with a reduction in the incidence of cavities among our youngest people.