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Last Updated: Friday, 20 February, 2004, 10:34 GMT
Drive to tackle healthcare gulf
Patients waiting
More people will be encouraged to use the health service
The Scottish Executive is to spend an additional 15m to tackle the country's health inequalities.

Pilot projects will encourage people living in the poorest areas to make more use of health service treatment.

Those in deprived areas tend to have poorer health than those in more affluent parts of Scotland.

Greater Glasgow Health Board will receive 12m over the next two years, while Tayside and Argyll and Clyde will get 1.5m each.

They will be asked to develop pilot projects to encourage a better take-up of measures like flu vaccines, cancer screening and cholesterol-reducing drugs.

We don't even know if this contract is going to help people in deprived areas
Dr Gerry Spence
Shettleston Health Centre
Ministers hope this scheme will create more uniform healthcare.

But success depends on identifying why people will not use the NHS.

Doctor Gerry Spence, from the Shettleston Health Centre in Glasgow, said additional health funding should be welcomed.

But he added: "Yet again it's more new ideas. Politicians love to announce new ideas and never say 'let's put money into things already being done well'.

Smoking campaign

"We don't even know if this contract is going to help people in deprived areas.

"It's a very small amount of money."

Dr Spence said the executive would make a greater impact by ploughing more funding into anti-smoking health schemes and banning smoking in public places.

"If politicians have money they should be putting it into existing services," he said.

Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm said the executive was committed to helping people give up smoking.

He said: "This is about trying to address the difficult and intractable problem of health inequalities.

Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm
Malcolm Chisholm said he is committed to closing the health gap

"We're committed to closing the health gap between the richest and the poorest communities. The reality is action must be taken on the health improvement agenda.

"We are not going to throw money at this without knowing what works, that's why we've set up pilots to find out what does."

Mr Chisholm said most of the funding would be allocated to the Glasgow area.

"We are not saying we know all the solutions and that's why we want healthcare professionals to come up with solutions," he said.

The pilot project's success will be evaluated before a decision is taken on whether or not to roll it out across the country.

Previous efforts to tackle the gulf in health have been frustrated as many people seem reluctant to ask for treatment and make use of existing services.

Last year a survey by the Office for National Statistics suggested that people living in Glasgow have the lowest life expectancy in the UK.

Scottish council areas accounted for seven of the 10 areas with the lowest life expectancy for men, and six out of 10 for women.

Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm
"We're not saying we know all the solutions"

BBC Scotland's David Henderson
"Ministers hope the scheme will create more uniform healthcare"

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