Scotland is the worst performing small country in Europe, according to the Federation of Small Businesses' (FSB) International Index of Success 2007, which compared factors such as economic performance, health and education across Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nations.
In particular, the report found the life expectancy in Scotland to be very poor – the lowest of the 10 OECD countries with a similarly sized population to Scotland.
Responding to this report today (Monday 11 June 2007) Dr Peter Terry, chairman of the British Medical Association (BMA) in Scotland, said: "In order to make real inroads in Scotland's health inequalities, government needs to put health at the heart of decision making. Our public health is affected by a whole range of factors in society. It is widely known that people living in poverty or those from disadvantaged communities are more likely to experience poor health.
"Health is improving, although the improvement is greater in more affluent areas. In 2002, men living in the most disadvantaged areas of Scotland had a life expectancy of almost nine years less than men living in affluent areas. For women, that gap was five years.
"Securing good health for all members of society will mean co-ordination across different government departments to ensure policy in one area doesn't undermine another. Achieving co-ordinated policy development across social, environmental and health issues will require sustained cross-departmental collaboration and the development of synergistic policies.
"The BMA is therefore calling upon the Scottish Executive to introduce health impact assessments for all government policy to ensure that health is taken into account by all ministerial departments and portfolios."