World Health Day: Scotland has much still to do

For immediate release 7 April 2011

The Scottish Green Party today marked World Health Day by setting out a range of measures aimed at ensuring better health for Scotland. At the heart of the Greens' proposals is a firm commitment to the NHS in Scotland remaining both free at the point of use and locally based, as well as a rejection of the market-driven changes being pushed through in England by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. The Greens further pledged to make prevention central to improving Scotland's health, with measures to tackle childhood obesity, alcohol, tobacco and other drug abuse to the fore.

Alis Ballance, top Green candidate in the South of Scotland and the party's health spokesperson, said:

"On World Health Day and during the Scottish election campaign, it's worth reminding ourselves of those famous words of Nye Bevan: 'No society can legitimately call itself civilised if a sick person is denied medical aid because of lack of means.' When it comes to Bevan's principal legacy, the NHS, Scottish Greens are happy to stand full square behind those universal values. We will keep the NHS free, publicly-owned and publicly-delivered, and unlike the other parties, we know how we'd pay for it.

"At the same time, modern-day Scotland faces a host of new health challenges, one of which is the trend towards centralisation in the health sector. We're placing an emphasis on primary and community care, provided as locally as possible. A well-organised local health service, based on community hospitals and services, also provides sustainable local jobs and training. This localised structure of health care, that we will work to encourage, can provide better support for carers.

"In Scotland we also continue to be faced with the negative impacts of obesity, as well as alcohol, tobacco and drug abuse. These need to be tackled head on, through meaningful education and through measures like a national tobacco control strategy as well as the minimum price alcohol blocked by the other opposition parties in the last session in the Scottish Parliament.

"The Green approach to health, at the most basic level, is not focused simply on sticking plaster solutions. Policies on everything from education and housing, to transport and agriculture can all influence our health. Shifting resources from road-building into support for walking and cycling boosts health, as does investment in sports centres and other activity centres. This is where Greens offer a unique blend of healthy policies across all of these areas, by making those important links between the economy, society and the environment."