HC Deb 21 April 1998 vol 310 cc575-6
1. Mr. David Marshall (Glasgow, Shettleston)

What discussions he has had with Greater Glasgow health board on the Green Paper, "Working Together for a Healthier Scotland", in respect of inequalities in health in Scotland; and if he will make a statement. [37613]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Sam Galbraith)

On 9 March, I met representatives of Greater Glasgow health board to discuss the Green Paper and its approach to reducing inequalities. I also visited a number of projects that are currently under way to tackle health inequalities in disadvantaged communities in Glasgow.

Mr. Marshall

Has the Minister studied the recent report by Bristol university, which stated that seven of the 10 constituencies with the poorest health statistics in the United Kingdom were in Glasgow? Is that not a shocking legacy of 18 years of Tory government? Does the Minister agree that poor health is related to poverty, unemployment, housing and education? Therefore, will he review the share formula and allocate additional resources to Glasgow that are based not upon population criteria but upon health needs?

Mr. Galbraith

Yes, I have read the Bristol report, which highlights what we have known for some time—that there are huge health inequalities in Scotland. Our method of tackling those is not to blame individuals or to nanny or nag them. Our policy is to get at the root problems and deal with life circumstances—education, jobs, health care and housing, and we have put in an additional £900 million to deal with those. The Government put their money where their mouth is. We are reviewing the share formula. It is based partly on population and partly on deprivation, but the issue is whether deprivation, which is reflected through the standardised mortality rates, is properly indexed. We expect a result on that later in the year.

Mr. John Maxton (Glasgow, Cathcart)

When my hon. Friend met the Greater Glasgow health board, did he discuss the section of the Green Paper relating to fluoride in the public water supply? If he did, did the board agree with him, and with me, that that is the best way to solve some of Scotland's dental health problems?

Mr. Galbraith

There is no question but that one of the main markers of inequalities in health relating to deprivation is the poor state of oral health in deprived communities. There are three ways to tackle that. One is by reducing sugar intake and another is regular brushing of the teeth, but unquestionably the best, and overwhelmingly most effective, way is to put fluoride in the water, and that is supported by all health boards and by me.

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