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Thurs 12 June 2008

Governments must cut poverty to tackle Scotland's health problems - UNISON

UNISON - Scotland's largest healthcare union, will tell a major conference today (Thursday) that the key to tackling Scotland's poor health record and the unequal impact of poor health on poorer areas, is for governments at all levels to use taxation and benefits to reduce poverty , and for Scotland's NHS to remain publicly owned and democratically controlled.

Other steps that governments can take, the union said, are to deliver well-funded public services to underpin decent lives and encourage high quality, safe and healthy work for all who need it.

At the Conference organised by Holyrood Communications in Glasgow today, Scottish Organiser for Bargaining and Equal Pay, Glyn Hawker, will say "Despite the increase in overall life expectancy and the reduction in some of the major killer diseases, the health gap between those in deprivation and those living in comfort is static and even showing signs of increasing, and the demographic challenges of an aging population loom large in challenging our attempts to improve the nations health.

"There are improvements in some killer diseases like coronary heart disease and cancer, but life expectancy remains lower in Scotland than Europe on average by almost a year for men - and almost two years for women. Glyn went one to outline four important steps to tackle these issues.

"In order to address these inequalities," she said. "governments at all levels need to reduce the growing gap between the poor and the rich, by using progressive taxation and well-funded public services. Work is also good for health, and good work is even better. Employers and politicians need to work to deliver this. Finally, the Scottish NHS in its 60th year, is developing a model of co-operation which is an ideal to enable joint work with other agencies and tackle the whole social environment, so that we can finally begin to close the 7.5 year mortality gap between well-off areas and deprived areas."


Note for editors; The Conference - Scotland's Population, Health Challenges, a Holyrood.com Conference, takes place from 10.00am on Thursday 12 June 2008 in the The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, Glasgow. Glyn will be speaking at around 10.45am. UNISON has around 60,000 members working in Scotland's health care, and around 170,000 Scottish members overall.

For Further Information Please Contact: Glyn Hawker (Scottish Organiser) 07876 441 237 (m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 07715 583 729(m) Malcolm Burns (Information Development Officer) 0141 342 2811(o)