Support for Elected Members

Sky with clouds 1

Role of councillors

Councils play such a fundamental role in creating the environment for communities to prosper and to enable the healthier choice to be the easier choice. Because councils can directly influence town planning, employment opportunities, social support, transport, education and housing, we need to ensure the impact on health and wellbeing we make is a positive one, one that ensures health inequalities are addressed and not widened.

The role of the councillor is therefore very important in terms of influencing the positive health of communities and ensuring the gap between our more affluent communities and individuals and those not so well off, isn’t widened.

This can be achieved through policy making prioritisation and targeting; scrutiny for positive health and wellbeing outcomes, representation those least well off and championing the inequalities agenda, community leadership role and the role in partnerships.

Elected member health inequalities and health and wellbeing skills, knowledge and experiences. Findings from the NHS Health Scotland Review

We appreciated the importance of understanding the needs of our audience. Further to the May 2012 local government elections, we recognised that our audience has changed with about a third of elected members being newly elected.

During June 2012 we undertook an exercise to:

  • review new and returning elected members’ understanding of health inequalities, health improvement and health protection and the role of the council and local partnerships
  • better understand elected members’ preference for engagement with NHS Health Scotland and their learning styles
  • develop a picture of the priority issues elected members see as important now and in the future
  • capture information about how the issue of health inequalities has been presented to elected members in their communities and how they have responded to this in practice.  

View the summary and full report of our findings.

Reducing health inequalities and improving health: what councillors can do to make a difference

The findings of this review informed the development of the below resource. NHS Health Soctland will now use these findings to plan the support it will provide Scottish Local Government in the coming years.

NHS Health Scotland in collaboration with COSLA and other partners have developed a resource for elected members highlighting their role in tackling health inequalities.

This resource, titled ‘Reducing health inequalities and improving health: what councillors can do to make a difference’ is for all councillors and aims to highlight their role in three main themes which are woven throughout the resource:

  • Reducing health inequalities
  • Improving health in a fairer way
  • Protecting health

The resource is structured around what the evidence tells us about the action needed to reduce health inequalities and improve and protect health.  It makes specific connections between this and the different roles councillors play (e.g. leadership role, partnership role).

It has been circulated to all elected members as web based and hard copy. The web based version has been circulated to a wide range of officers and partners. We hope it will be used as a stimulus for debate, briefings and training locally.

This work sits within NHS Health Scotland’s corporate strategy, ‘A fairer healthier Scotland’ as we aim to maximise work across a wide range of partners for the reduction of health inequalities and focus on collaborative effort 

The Obesity Time Bomb: Why it's everyone's business - An elected member briefing note

This briefing (external link) aims to provide councillors with some background to the complex problem of obesity and highlight why councils have a fundamental role in addressing this huge societal problem. It offers illustrations of how council services can contribute and presents the argument that a locally-based whole system approach is required so that an action by one organisation doesn´t have a counterproductive effect elsewhere.

Reviewed 28 July 2014

We use cookies to help improve this website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue. Don't show this message again