Page last updated at 12:24 GMT, Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Public Audit Committee 1

Auditor General Caroline Gardner told the Public Audit Committee to address Scotland's health inequalities "money spent needs to be targeted on the people who are most at risk" in deprived areas.

Ms Gardner was giving evidence on the auditor general's report entitled "Health inequalities Scotland" on 19 December 2012.

The auditor general told the committee deprived areas had to be targeted and it was "difficult to establish a clear picture of progress" in combating health inequalities.

She said: "life expectancy was increasing for all of us but the gap is still increasing", between the health of the most deprived and the most affluent in Scotland.

Despite health inequalities being prioritised by successive governments, most indicators showed the inequality was not reducing, she said.

The Audit Scotland report said overall health in Scotland had improved in the past 50 years, but there were still deep-seated inequalities, largely because of deprivation, although age, gender and ethnicity were also factors.

Men in the most deprived areas died 11 years earlier than those in the most affluent, with the age gap 7.5 years for women, said the report.

People in deprived areas also had higher rates of heart disease, obesity, diabetes and problems with drug and alcohol abuse.

Committee convener Iain Gray said the most important factor about the disparity in life expectancy was the human cost, but it also had a huge economic cost, asking if £26bn was the estimate.

Phil Grigor from Audit Scotland said £26bn was a conservative estimate.

Claire Sweeney, also from Audit Scotland, stressed there were very tangible instances of good practice but one of the "big things from report was the need for performance measures and assessment of what is making a difference".

Ms Sweeney referred to "a bit of silo mentality" among partners who needed to be committed to community planning to make most effective use of funding.

The second part of the committee may be viewed below:

Public Audit Committee 2

Public Audit Committee membership

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