Scotland is aiming to be a world leader in improving the public’s health, through a new vision for organisations and communities across the country.

The Scottish Government and COSLA have jointly published public health priorities for Scotland, aimed at focussing action across the public sector and voluntary sector and in communities. The priorities are the first milestone in a wider reform of public health.

The public health priorities have been developed through a process of engagement with stakeholders from across Scotland. Feedback from stakeholders was reviewed by public health experts which helped to inform these priorities.

The priorities set a direction for Scotland’s public services over the next decade, with the aim of organisations and communities working better together to focus on prevention, to reduce health inequality and increase healthy life expectancy. The priorities recognise that health and wellbeing is created in communities and through partnerships across sectors and that mental health must have parity with physical health, including commitments to enhance suicide prevention. Some 54 bodies across Scotland have already endorsed the priorities, reflecting a growing consensus and momentum for change.

The announcement of the priorities comes ahead of the publication of Scottish Government strategies and action plans covering tobacco, physical activity, diet, substance misuse and alcohol, and the creation of a new public health body in 2019.

The six identified public health priorities for Scotland, where by working together, healthy life expectancy can improve and reduce inequalities, the priorities are:

·       A Scotland where we live in vibrant, healthy and safe places and communities.

·       A Scotland where we flourish in our early years.

·       A Scotland where we have good mental wellbeing.

·       A Scotland where we reduce the use of and harm from alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.

·       A Scotland where we have a sustainable, inclusive economy with equality of outcomes for all.

·       A Scotland where we eat well, have a healthy weight and are physically active.

Scotland’s Public Heath Priorities can be downloaded here

Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell said:

“We want a Scotland where everybody thrives and to be a world leader in improving the public’s health. We’ve made great progress, with people living healthier for longer. But we still face significant challenges with significant and persistent health inequalities, and not everybody enjoys good health. 

“As well as improving the quality and length of people’s lives, we also want to reduce the social and economic impact of ill-health and inequality, and help build a nation where people achieve their potential. I am clear that the NHS cannot do this alone; wellbeing is created in wider society, in communities and across our public services, and we need all of these partners to work together.”

COSLA’s Health and Social Care Spokesperson Peter Johnston said:

“The launch of public health priorities represents an important step in improving Scotland’s health and tackling the health inequalities we still face. Local government is committed to a full and equal partnership with the Scottish Government to reform public health. These priorities tackle the issues driving Scotland’s health problems and represent a call to action across the whole system.

“Most importantly, we need to put our communities at the heart of efforts to improve people’s health. Councils have a key role to play through empowering communities and bringing partners together across the public, voluntary and private sectors.”