What we need from the new Scottish First Minister

30 Mar 2023

The BDA congratulates Humza Yousaf MSP on his formal election as Leader of the Scottish National Party and First Minister of Scotland. This is a significant moment for Scotland with the election of the country's sixth first minister and first from an ethnic minority background. However, there is still much work to be done by the Scottish Government and below are our key asks for Humza Yousaf and his Cabinet.

Malnutrition and the cost of living is placing substantial pressure on people across Scotland. This is seeing individuals, from children to the elderly, developing long-term health and social issues due to a lack of access to food. Sadly, this epidemic of hunger tends to target the poorest and most vulnerable in our society. It’s vital that the Scottish Government takes action now and delivers interventions to help lower the price of food and ensure that everyone in Scotland has access to a healthy balanced diet.

Obesity is also a challenge within Scottish society. As highlighted by Henry Dimbleby’s resignation, there is a need for political will, the dangers of not tackling this issue and the need for political will from Holyrood and Westminster. We’re therefore calling the First Minister and his Government to tackle obesity head on and to address negative factors such as pre-watershed advertising of junk foods. We need to address this now to prevent further health and social challenges in our future.

As part of the Right to Rehab Coalition, the BDA also wishes to continue to work with the Scottish Government to ensure that everyone has access to rehab when needed, and no-one is excluded. People’s needs should be met locally by having the right workforce in place. We call on the Government to implement the Once for Scotland approach, based on the six principles of good rehabilitation contained within their policy document: “Rehabilitation and recovery: a person- centred approach”.

NHS Scotland is facing a workforce shortage, which includes dietitians and dietetic support workers. If we want to preserve this great institution it is crucial that we ensure it has the staffing levels needed to deliver for the Scottish people. As such, we’re calling on the Scottish Government to deliver on its 2022 National Workforce Strategy for Health and Social Care in Scotland and action the national Allied Health Profession’s (AHP) Education and Workforce, February 2023 report. In particular we hope the Scottish Government will fulfil its promises to better integrate AHPs into NHS Scotland, further expanding its understanding of them and ensuring that staff, regardless of role, have access to continuous training and development. We also commend the First Minister on his positive engagement with the NHS trade unions on the issue of fair pay during his tenure as Secretary for Health and Social Care. We hope to see this positive engagement continue with his government.  

The BDA, as always, is ready to work with the Scottish Government and all political parties represented in Scotland, to deliver the best possible outcomes for members and the people of Scotland.