Scotland Can Be A Healthy Society

Faodaidh Alba a bhith na dùthaich sprogail fallain

The NHS and our network of social care services in every local authority, is an incredible national asset. But Scotland’s people face unacceptable differences in longevity and years lived in good physical or mental health. These inequalities in health are harmful to individuals and to society. Green MSPs will take every opportunity to strengthen the foundations for good health especially tackling income inequality and discrimination and prejudice. We believe Scotland can be a society where we fight poverty, build communities and support everyone in need throughout life.

The NHS knows that actions to tackle poverty, such as better wages, fair taxes and increasing social security, are the best way to tackle health inequalities. Policies throughout this manifesto are designed to meet these challenges and support action on health inequality through community-based organisations.

Community ownership is one of our party's long-standing priorities; we believe people should have more direct say over how their communities are managed and run. This includes assets within those communities, including football clubs.

Alison Johnstone

Our commitments

  • Wellbeing At The Centre of Government

    Scottish Greens support measures to make our society's good health, equality and well being the foundation of all Scottish Government policy.

  • A Healthy Start For Children From All Backgrounds

    We will promote policies that tackle child poverty, support healthy pregnancies, build children’s confidence, and foster healthy lifestyle habits from a young age.

  • Nutritional Targets For Supermarkets

    Greens will push for a levy on retailers and caterers who choose to promote too much poor-quality food.

Scotland can secure a health and social care system for the future:

  • Green MSPs will fight for a health service that is fit for the future. NHS in Scotland must be kept in public hands and we support a review of all contracts with private providers. Austerity measures and welfare reform have had a significant impact on large numbers of people who are already bearing the poorest health and will continue to do so for years to come. Funding for NHS in Scotland needs to be increased to take account of this health time-bomb and Health and Social Care integration needs to provide joined up care with strong links between social, primary and acute care.
  • Safe staff levels. Green MSPs will fight for a Living Wage Plus for social care staff to help deliver the best frontline services possible. We will push to make healthcare jobs in Scotland more attractive, with less paperwork and more time for learning and career development. We will give senior healthcare professionals greater power over the operation and organisation of care, with a greater focus on long-term targets for preventative care.
  • Making primary care fair. 90% of patient contacts with the health service are with GPs and other primary care professionals in communities yet these services are not currently distributed so that they are more available to those most in need. Primary services are vital to preventing the need for more acute services. Greens will seek to ensure that all primary care services - GPs, community and practice nurses, pharmacists and others have the resources to improve shared working and caseload, and fight to ensure that primary care provision is equitable.
  • Ageing society. We celebrate our ageing society. It brings challenges for the health and social care system but these changes can be positive. The challenges require us to provide care concentrated on retaining people’s independence and to create an inclusive culture where more people of all ages play a positive role in society. The unpaid and undervalued care and expertise which older people bring to society should be valued. Green MSPs will push for a commission to explore new ways (and lost old ways) of supporting an inclusive culture which maintains people’s health and independence.
  • Social care funding. Social care supports many thousands of people to lead a more independent life but funding is stretched to breaking point. Older people, disabled people and their carers – predominantly women – are at greater risk of  poverty as a result. We recognise that providing universal social care which enables people to live full lives will require more public spending. There is a significant financial cost to doing this, but a much larger social and human cost if we don’t do it.
  • Fight privatisation. Green MSPs will oppose NHS privatisation. Over £85m of NHS revenue spending was spent on using the private sector, up 18% since 2009/10 and private sector PFI debt costs the NHS over £220m a year in 2015/16. Greens will push for a debt arbitration commission to explore cancelling or significantly renegotiating any damaging PFI contracts.

Scotland can give children a healthy start to life:

  • Fight child poverty. Green MSPs will fight to ensure nobody who is pregnant is poor, cold or hungry. We will push to expand the Sure Start Maternity Grant to increase payments, include second children, and extend eligibility where possible to help provide financial stability for pregnant mothers at risk of poverty. We will fund health visitors and midwives to work with families to claim all the financial support they are entitled to. A similar project in Glasgow, Healthier, Wealthier Children, helped parents gain £3 million in financial benefits.
  • Healthy pregnancy. We will push to grow the network of community-based projects to help parents have the healthiest pregnancy possible and support to raise children. Abolishing Employment Tribunal fees will help tackle workplace discrimination related to parental leave and help everyone exercise their maternity and parental rights at work.
  • Child friendly society. Greens MSPs will focus on creating a child-friendly society. We will support programmes aimed at providing young people with confidence and self-worth and we support campaigns to reduce stigma and social pressures on children. We will support action on identifying child mental health issues early and addressing child trauma, bereavement and loss. Tackling child poverty and the impact of Westminster benefit cuts on the people they have put at risk, will be top priority for Local Authorities and Community Planning. This includes disabled people, refugees, women and their children. 
  • Healthy habits. Healthy eating and active lives start from an early age. Greens will support local authorities to provide free fruit, practical food education and work towards free school meals for all primary pupils. We will work with local authorities to create safe and exciting outdoors spaces – more green spaces, more walking and cycling routes, accessible sports centres and more access to wild land.
  • Tackle food promotion. The way food is marketed must also change to reduce obesity. The food system focuses on selling sugar and fat because the profits are greater. Greens will push for a levy on retailers and caterers who have multiple outlets. A levy would aim to discourage the promotion of unhealthy foods.  It would hit companies whose sales failed to meet nutritional targets and encourage the supermarket chains, who are the source of most of our food, to become much healthier places to shop. Greens will also support campaigns to ban price-promotions on sugary foods and to end unhealthy food and drink advertising aimed at young people.

Scotland can build good health for all:

  • Good mental health. Mental health has been secondary to physical health for too long, and too long seen as something separate from inequality and poverty and poor local environment. Green MSPs will fight for equal consideration for mental and physical health across all health and social care sectors with a focus on key areas of action: early identification and intervention; tackling poverty and economic inequality; good quality housing and a child-friendly society. We support the Declaration of Rights for Mental Health to ensure that all people with mental health issues are treated equally, with dignity and respect. Green MSPs recognise that abuse in childhood is one cause of poor mental and social health and welcome the recent exposure of the endemic nature of childhood sexual abuse. We will fight for investment for a better understanding of the causes of  mental health problems within mental health services. All mental health staff should be trained to understand the way that discrimination affects mental health and should be supported to formulate care and treatment that takes this into account. We will also fight for more resources to meet the needs of LGBTI+ people, disabled people and young people as these groups often suffer worse mental health. We will also call for increased provision of maternal mental health services. 
  • Tackling the big killers. Scotland’s health is getting better but diseases like cancer, heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease and liver disease still afflict too many people. Green MSPs will continue to support action to help people live healthy lives and make changes to reduce or quit smoking and enjoy drink socially and healthily. Cancer is Scotland’s biggest killer, with an estimated 220,000 people currently living with and beyond treatment. Green MSPs support calls for comprehensive care plans to address the increased number of diagnoses and patients living beyond treatment with long-term health problems. Such plans should addresses patients’ wider care needs, including emotional, financial and practical support.
  • Tackling LGBTI+ health inequalities. Scotland's LGBTI+ population face health inequalities. We will push for access to appropriate healthcare for trans people, including specialist treatment and advice as part of transitioning and we will push for access to treatment within 18 weeks, in line with NHS standards for other services.  Green MSPs will call for a ban on unjustified medical interventions that seek to forcibly alter a person’s sexual characteristics or to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of LGBTI+ people. This would include medically unnecessary surgery on intersex minors and so-called “conversion therapy”. We support a review of blood donation restrictions and support exploring the extension of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination programme to young people of all genders.
  • Research. Scotland has world-leading centres for health research. Green MSPs will continue to support the research necessary for evidence-led action on better health. The pharmaceutical industry provides life-saving advances in medicine but too often the power it holds can be misused - we will support campaigns for all clinical trials to be registered and their full methods and summary results reported and explore ways to ensure drugs are available to the NHS at the lowest price possible.
  • Health in the workplace. We spend a lot of our time at work, and occupational stress and health hazards are a significant cause of poor health. Scottish Greens will press for this to be a continuing priority to provide advice and support on reducing occupational health risks. 

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