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Diabetes, Heart Disease and Stroke (Over-65s)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 14th November 2019.

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Photo of Brian Whittle Brian Whittle Conservative

6. To ask the First Minister what action the Scottish Government is taking to reduce levels of diabetes, heart disease and stroke among over-65s. (S5F-03719)

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

We continue to implement the diabetes, heart disease and stroke improvement plans, which set out our priorities and actions to deliver improved prevention, treatment and care. Those plans are making a difference: between 2008 and 2018, the mortality rate for coronary heart disease decreased by 37.2 per cent and the mortality rate for stroke decreased by 42.7 per cent.

We are also leading the way in the United Kingdom with innovative public health policies. Our diet and healthy weight delivery plan strives to make a significant impact on the prevention and remission of type 2 diabetes, and our tobacco action plan is delivering results, as the smoking rate for adults has continued to fall. Those policies strive to help people make healthier choices and support them to live healthier lives.

Photo of Brian Whittle Brian Whittle Conservative

I know that the First Minister is aware of a recent report that asked for gastric band surgery for over-65s to be available on the national health service to address obesity-related diabetes, heart attacks and strokes. Does she agree that a better use of that resource would be to encourage and promote activities that help with people’s physical and mental wellbeing, such as walking football and walking netball? Does she agree that that should be the first step to tackling obesity, long before such invasive surgery is promoted?

The First Minister:

I thank Brian Whittle for raising those issues. As he will be aware, bariatric surgery, as it is called, is available on the NHS, but whether it is appropriate for a particular patient will be a clinical decision. If such surgery is clinically appropriate for a patient, it should be provided on the NHS. I agree with that.

I also agree that prevention is the key here and is what we should be principally focused on. That is why the public health work that I spoke about is so important, along with ensuring that there is early diagnosis of illness and good care and treatment. The strategy that I mentioned is focused on all those things. As we continue to take such action, I very much hope that we will continue to see the mortality rates for heart disease and stroke reducing.

Photo of Maureen Watt Maureen Watt Scottish National Party

The First Minister will be aware that the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has pledged that the Tories will cut overall immigration and end freedom of movement if Boris Johnson wins—

The Presiding Officer:

I am sorry to stop you, Ms Watt, but I thought that you wanted to ask a supplementary to Mr Whittle’s question. I am afraid that supplementaries have to follow the question, which, in this case, was on diabetes and healthcare.

Photo of David Stewart David Stewart Labour

The First Minister will be well aware that today is world diabetes day. Does she share Diabetes Scotland’s view that all people living with diabetes should receive the appropriate emotional, psychological and mental health support that they need to self-manage their condition, as people with diabetes are twice as likely to experience depression?

The First Minister:

Yes, I agree with that, and the Scottish Government will continue to work to achieve that aim.

I pay tribute to David Stewart, who I know has taken a long-standing interest in issues associated with diabetes; he showed that while I was health secretary. As a result, he will know about the work that the Scottish Government is doing not only to reduce the incidence of diabetes and to maximise the reversal of type 2 diabetes, but to make sure that the right support and services are there for people who are living with diabetes.

The Presiding Officer:

Before we move on to the next item of business, we will have a short suspension to allow some visitors to come into the gallery and members to change seats.

12:44 Meeting suspended.

12:50 On resuming—