GREENS SET OUT PUBLIC AND COMMUNITY HEALTH AGENDA: Pilton Community Health Project sets an example

The Scottish Green Party today sets out its agenda for public and community health.(1)Mark Ballard will be visiting a leading project in Edinburgh and has led debate in the Scottish Parliament on the fact that many community-led and voluntary projects are struggling for funds despite them proving to be the one of the most effective routes to tackling health inequalities. (2)

Green Lothian candidate and Green Speaker on public services, Mark Ballard, said: “We all know that prevention is better than cure.

However many voluntary and community health projects are facing a severe funding crisis, including a 50% year-on-year cut last year for voluntary health in Greater Glasgow and Clyde NHS board area. Greens argue that voluntary and community health projects are best placed to deliver many aspects of public health, but are often the first projects to be cut when funding is tight.”

In the last parliament Green MSPs instigated the first parliamentary debate on community health projects and said that it was almost impossible to hold health boards and local Authorities to account over the amount of money they spend on supporting community and voluntary health initiatives. Greens are demanding that as a first step Health boards and local authorities should be required to produce a clear statement, including strategies and targets, on how they support community-led and voluntary sector health initiatives. This should also demonstrate how much financial support is given to these groups.

Ballard added: “Pilton Community Health Project is a good example of the kind of health promotion work the voluntary and community sector is best placed to deliver. It has brilliant projects led by local people to improve diet, mental health and tackle post natal depression and violence against women. Money invested here will stop people having to undergo expensive Hospital treatment later on. These are the kind of projects that should be a priority for health spending, not an afterthought.”

“As much as 80% of the NHS budget now goes on tackling chronic diseases such as depression, asthma and diabetes. The Wanless report forecasts that meeting these costs will require a doubling of health spending by 2020 if the causes of these problems are not addressed.

This means that much of the current health policy debate, with its focus on building ever bigger centralised hospitals and expensive technology, is really missing the point.”

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Notes to editors

1. Greens have set out a four-point plan to impove community health in
scotland: the main points are as follows:

• We will develop a national strategy for supporting community health projects.

• We will require health boards, local authorities and other publicly funded agencies to commit to national standards for community engagement and agree voluntary sector compacts.

• The Scottish Diet Action Plan has failed to improve either our diets or our levels of obesity. We will replace the Diet Action Plan with a Food Policy for Scotland while focusing on reviving Scotland’s food culture and encouraging people to cook using fresh local produce.

 • We will rule out fluoridation of our water supply and focus instead on tooth-brushing schemes in schools. We will aim for everyone to have regular full oral health assessments.

• Hearing loss affects around 1 in 7 of the population and can have a huge impact on people’s lives. We will bring the audiology waiting time target into line with targets for other services, ensure that the figures are published, and work to ensure that audiology clinics can meet or improve upon the target before 2011.

For more information about the recent parliamentary debate on Community Health Projects go to: