HEALTH Secretary Jeane Freeman has said Scotland’s label of the “sick man of Europe” has become unwarranted.

She dismissed the tag, saying the country has made strides to improve public health. Freeman conceded more had to be done to improve health in the most deprived areas but said the burden should not fall solely on the health service.

Scotland earned the label due to higher mortality rates and lower life expectancy than its European neighbours.

In response to a question from Tory MSP Brian Whittle on Scotland’s “sick man” status during an evidence session of the Health and Sport Committee, Freeman said: “I think that’s increasingly unfair actually. While we’re nowhere near where we want to be, I think we’ve seen significant improvements. I think the tag is unwarranted.”