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

Public Audit Committee 2

Scotland's Chief Medical Officer Sir Harry Burns told the Public Audit Committee it was time to spread projects aimed at tackling health inequalities across the whole of Scotland, as the "time for wee projects is long passed".

Sir Harry was giving evidence in the second session on the auditor general's report entitled "Health inequalities Scotland" on 19 December 2012.

The chief medical officer said health inequalities were the "biggest issue facing Scotland just now".

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.

Sir Harry said the report "doesn't pay much attention to the complex science underlying health inequalities" which were an "astonishingly complex problem".

He said, on the fight against health inequalities, "the history of this effort is full of three year projects" which were piecemeal and it was time to roll-out the projects that "we know have worked locally" in a scale across the whole of Scotland with a "stickability" of five to 10 years.

Sir Harry Burns asked the committee "is there any will politically to do that?".

Also giving evidence were Derek Feeley, the chief executive of the NHS in Scotland and Donald Henderson from the Scottish government.

The first part of this committee can be viewed below:

Public Audit Committee 1

Public Audit Committee membership

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