Better Health, Better Care: An action plan

The Better Health Better Care report sets out the Scottish Government’s action plan –  a five-year programme of work to improve health and health care in Scotland. Section 2, Improving Scotland’s Health, includes actions to break the link between early life adversity and adult disease and reduce health inequalities, particularly in the most deprived communities.

In relation to the early years, Better Health, Better Care identifies pre-conception, antenatal care, supporting parenting, oral health, and children and young people’s mental health as areas for action, through specific settings such as education and specialist children’s services. It highlights the importance of evidence-based interventions, integrated service provision, and child-centred approaches. 

The action plan reflects work underway by the Ministerial Task Force on Health Inequalities to make improvements to the health services. In particular, it sets out the Scottish Government's plans to develop early intervention programmes that invest in the health of pregnant mothers, babies and young children to break the link between early life adversity and adult disease.

The plan sets out a range of measures to improve the quality of the National Health Service. It sets out the NHS’s commitments to local care whenever possible, embedded in communities and tailored to people's needs. It emphasises a commitment to care that is faster, safer and more efficient and effective. It recognises the excellent progress made by NHS staff over the last few years and in the spirit of continuous improvement, the action planseeks to accelerate this progress.

The plan sets out the following actions relevant to early years:

  • Work in partnership with local Government and others to develop a long term early years strategy by Autumn 2008. 
  • Work within the framework of Getting It Right For Every Child to change cultures, systems and practices in NHS Scotland and its partner organisations. 
  • Ensure the widespread implementation of Health for All Children, supported by NHS Quality Improvement Scotland, to enable intensive support for those with greatest needs. 
  • Continue work to protect children from the effects of drugs, alcohol and smoking. 
  • Implement the recommendations of Looked After Children and Young People: We can and must do better. 
  • Develop a competency framework through NHS Education for Scotland to support the development of specialist nurses for looked-after children. 
  • Strengthen antenatal care to better engage with parents with higher needs, in particular teenage mothers. 
  • Develop actions to promote infant nutrition within the new Food and Health Delivery Plan. 
  • Target NHS boards to improve breastfeeding rates and appoint an infant nutrition coordinator at national level. 
  • Roll out the new schools-based preventative dental service. 
  • Publish reviews of current evidence on early interventions, particularly those that will mitigate the effects of inequality on wellbeing and develop a programme of work that will implement them across NHS boards. 
  • Extend entitlement to free school meals, subject to legislation being passed. 
  • Increase healthcare support for schools and teachers starting in those areas with the highest concentrations of vulnerable children. 
  • Implement the Mental Health of Children and Young People: A Framework for Promotion, Prevention and Care by 2015. 
  • Publish a national delivery plan for specialist children's services in 2008. 
  • Sustain four major children's hospitals across Scotland, including new hospitals in Glasgow and Edinburgh, by 2012.

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