Addressing inequalities: policy framework and background

The Scottish Government, health service and public sector have made it a priority to address the consequences of inter-generational factors that perpetuate health inequalities from parent to child, for example educational and health outcomes, by engaging individuals, families and communities most at risk. Addressing inequalities in the early years in terms of quality of services, access to services, and overall experience is instrumental to this commitment.

Reducing inequalities is a key outcome of the Scottish Government’s and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities’ joint Early Years Framework. This is supported by the Scottish Government’s report from the Ministerial Task Force on Health Inequalities, Equally Well. This brings a multi-disciplinary and cross-sector approach to thinking on poverty, children’s lives and support for families and environments. The recommendations of this report set out that all work which flows from Equally Well should be equality impact assessed to ensure any differential impact is identified and addressed.

Tackling inequalities must prioritise the earliest years of children’s lives, where inequalities first arise and influence outcomes into adulthood. The Scottish Government, health service and public sector have made it a priority to address the inter-generational factors that perpetuate health inequalities from parent to child by engaging individuals, families and communities most at risk.

Key recommendations from the Task Force for the early years:

  • NHS boards should improve the capacity of antenatal services to reach higher risk groups and identify and manage risks during pregnancy
  • The Government should lead the development of support services for families with very young children at risk of poor health and other poor outcomes
  • Physical environments that promote healthy lifestyles for children, including opportunities for play, physical activity and healthy eating should be a priority for local authorities and other public services.

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