THE gap in health inequalities between the most deprived areas and the least deprived areas across Scotland has widened, a recent health publication has revealed.

Recently, the Reporter revealed that undergraduate students from deprived areas are less likely to progress to postgraduate study than their more well-off peers, and it appears that education is not the only thing that those from the most deprived areas are being let down on. The papers, released by the Population Health Directorate, reveal some damning figures:

The admission rate to hospitals as a result of a heart attack was more than double the amount for those living in the most deprived areas of the country, compared to those living in the least.

In 2018, the mortality rate of those suffering from coronary heart disease was more than four times greater in the most deprived areas compared to the least deprived.

For those in the 45-74 year age group, those living in Scotland’s most deprived areas are more than twice as likely to die of cancer than those in the least deprived areas, 2018 figures also show.

Hospital admissions for alcohol-related conditions amongst those aged under 75 has fallen by 25 per cent between 1996 and 2018, however in 2018 alcohol-related hospital admissions were four times higher in the most deprived compared to the least deprived areas of Scotland.

Mags Mckenzie, chief executive of Dumbarton Area Council on Alcohol, a community-based alcohol service, said: “The links between alcohol-related illness and multiple deprivation are well known, so it is worrying to see a widening gap in health inequalities in West Dunbartonshire.

“Another factor clearly impacting on people in West Dunbartonshire is general poor health with one in four people having a long-term limiting physical or mental health condition and one in five being prescribed medication for anxiety, depression or psychosis.”

“Research carried out by Alcohol Focus Scotland in 2018 put West Dunbartonshire at 11th highest out of 30 local authorities for number of outlets selling alcohol. More worryingly it was 6th highest for off-sales outlets and 40% of local neighbourhoods had off-sales outlet availability higher than the Scottish average.”

Jackie Baillie, Labour MSP added: “This persistent level of health inequality shames a nation that is as wealthy as ours. The data consistently shows that people living in the poorest areas are more likely to have poor health and die younger.

“It beggars belief that in 2020, your postcode can still be the determining factor in your quality of life. This is a result of years of complacency from SNP ministers and a lack of investment in our communities in Dumbarton, the Vale of Leven, Helensburgh and Lomond. This must serve as a wake-up call to the Health Secretary to ramp up efforts across government to end these shameful health inequalities.”

Commenting on the Long-term Monitoring of Health Inequalities report, Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick said: “While this report confirms that progress has been made in reducing inequalities across a number of health indicators, it remains a stubborn reality that those who live in the most deprived parts of Scotland continue to live less healthy lives than those in the more affluent parts of the country.

“We remain focussed on addressing the underlying causes that drive health inequalities, which has income inequality at its heart. Our bold package of measures to help tackle key issues such as smoking, obesity, inactivity, and alcohol misuse will support people to live longer healthier lives.

Overall, the gap in premature mortality rates has increased to its highest point since 2008.