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Chamber and committees

Question reference: S6W-11714

  • Asked by: Gillian Mackay, MSP for Central Scotland, Scottish Green Party
  • Date lodged: 26 October 2022
  • Current status: Answered by Maree Todd on 4 November 2022


To ask the Scottish Government what steps it is taking to reduce the stigma reportedly faced by liver disease patients from healthcare professionals in (a) primary and (b) secondary care.


I recognise that stigma associated with liver disease can create very specific challenges, including by isolating people from their communities and act as a significant barrier to seeking help and support. This can increase the harms experienced due to delayed presentation especially given the generalised association between liver disease and alcohol misuse and/or drug abuse.

The Scottish Government is committed to tackling this stigma, including among health care professionals across the healthcare system. We are currently developing a national stigma action plan for drugs and alcohol that will include taking the principles of the stigma charter developed by the Drugs Death Taskforce and putting these into action.

The issue of stigma is also clearly referenced on the NHS Inform website which states that a drug or alcohol problem is a health condition and people should receive help and support, not judgement.

Alcohol and drugs are of course not the exclusive causes of liver disease. On 20 June 2022, Public Health Scotland launched the Challenging Weight Stigma Learning Hub . The learning hub aims to raise awareness of the impact weight stigma can have on people living with overweight and obesity and what health professionals can do to mitigate this. It is interactive and has been developed alongside academics, health professionals and those with lived experience of stigma.