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12 November 2014, 06:09
Action must replace words if the health gap between the best-off and worst-off in Scottish society is to be closed, according to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Scotland.
The organisation says more could and should be done to improve the health of people living in the country's most deprived communities.
It has commissioned a poll showing that half of people think the health gap is inevitable but 62% believe such inequality is unfair.
The YouGov survey of 1,040 adults found that 63% of people think funding for services that reduce health inequalities should be prioritised only if effects on other health and social care services are minimal.
Theresa Fyffe, director of RCN Scotland, said: "Instead of further discussion on the possible causes of health inequalities, action needs to be taken now to improve the health and lives of people living in Scotland's worst-off communities.
"This is not just because it's the right thing to do - it will also save money: Audit Scotland estimates that if the death rate in the most deprived groups in Scotland improved around £10 billion would be saved.''
She highlighted the "inspiring'' work of support charity Caring Over People's Emotions (COPE) in Drumchapel, Glasgow, as an example of nurses working alongside other health and social care professionals to tackle inequality.
Ms Fyffe said: "Providing long-term sustainable funding for such services is a necessity. We're pressing the Scottish Government, the NHS and local authorities to support these services in the long-term.
"This way we would have a chance of improving the lives of people living in the harshest of circumstances and actually start closing the gap in health between the best-off and worst-off in Scotland's society.''