Child Death Review Process

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 26th February 2019.

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Photo of Jeane Freeman Jeane Freeman Scottish National Party

A number of areas of work to tackle health inequalities are under way. As I am sure Mary Fee appreciates, not all of those sit in the health portfolio, and we need to tackle such inequalities much more widely. Work is being done on measures, such as the baby box and the new best start grant that is being administered by our new social security agency, that attempt to get practical support into the hands of mums, babies and small children. With our deep-end practices, community-based healthcare workers, community mental health workers, link workers and others, we are also looking at how we can reach all the people we need to reach on the preventative and improved lifestyle approaches that we need them to take.

However, we need to do that in a way that reflects where people are, rather than appearing to be judgmental and lecturing or being open to the accusation that it is easy for someone like me to say how they should stop smoking, eat more healthily or exercise more. When people are struggling to make ends meet and have families to bring up, such advice can seem too much and too impractical. By using connections with trusted healthcare workers and others to help people to identify practical ways within their means to make changes and improvements to their lifestyles, we will begin to tackle health inequalities. Such work can be done not only in this portfolio but more widely across the Government; work that is going on in education and elsewhere also plays a part.

It would be beneficial if, at some point—perhaps Mary Fee and I could co-operate on this—the Parliament could have a wider debate about how we might tackle health inequalities in the round, across our portfolios in the Government. I would be very happy to meet her to see whether we could make progress on that.