SOME indicators of health inequalities in Scotland have reached their highest level on record, a new report shows.

Relative inequality in healthy life expectancy for both males and females is at its highest level since the reporting period began in 2013, according to the annual monitoring report from the Scottish Government.

This measures the extent to which healthy life expectancy is worse in the most deprived areas compared to the average throughout Scotland.

It increased from 0.38 to 0.47 for males and from 0.36 to 0.45 for females between 2013-2015 and 2019-2021.

For premature mortality – defined as deaths under 75 years old – the relative inequality index was at 1.56 in 2021, the highest since the reporting period began in 1997.

The report said: “The Covid-19 pandemic is likely to have had an impact on the recent data for most indicators included in this report.”

It added: “A&E attendance figures provide an indication of the wider impact Covid-19 has had across the NHS.

“Changes in the use of healthcare services during the pandemic could be due to a number of factors, including a real change in the need for these services, reduced availability of services or a reduced demand for services, for example due to a reluctance to burden the NHS or anxiety about risk of infection.”

The National:

Scottish Labour’s health spokesperson Jackie Baillie said: “Scotland’s health inequalities are nothing short of a national scandal.

“This is the result of years of failure under the SNP, with yet more shameful records being set on Humza Yousaf’s watch.

“The most deprived communities in Scotland are paying the harshest price for the chaos of the SNP’s disastrous mismanagement of our NHS.

“These inequalities are costing lives and the next First Minister must make it a priority to tackle this.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We welcome that there has been slight improvement to some inequalities but recognise more needs to be done – it remains a sad reality that health, quality of life and even life expectancy vary significantly among communities across Scotland.

“We remain committed to addressing the underlying causes of health inequalities, increase fair access to employment, education and training, and improve our physical and social environments.

“This includes bringing forward legislation to restrict promotion of less healthy food and drink, providing £9 million in 2022/23 to health boards to fund smoking cessation services and evaluating the impact of Minimum Unit Pricing of alcohol.

“Every drugs death is a tragedy and we are spending an additional £250m on out National Mission to tackle this public health emergency and get more people into treatment which work for them.”