The Scottish government is being challenged to set out how it will address the “fatalistic attitude” that means some people in the poorest areas expect to suffer health problems such as heart disease.

MSPs on Holyrood’s Public Audit Committee also want ministers to look at whether there are enough GPs working in deprived communities and areas with a large number of people from ethnic minorities.

Levels of heart disease are higher for people in the poorest parts of the country, as well as for some ethnic groups.

And while deaths rates for all types of heart disease have fallen over the last decade, there are still some parts of Scotland where the rates of heart disease are the highest in Western Europe.

MSPs on the committee carried out an inquiry into cardiology services, during which they discovered that many people from deprived areas and from certain ethnic groups expected to become ill.

Convener Iain Gray said: “The powerful but deeply disturbing message was ‘people like us die of heart disease, and that’s how it is’.

“We learned that many simply do not expect to enjoy good health and have an almost resigned acceptance that ill-health, including heart disease, is what life brings.”

Some people thought their pains were “normal” and did not consider them significant enough to raise them with their GP, Mr Gray said.

He added: “In some cases, patients even indicated they did not recognise the symptoms of ill-health to the degree that they confused having a heart attack for indigestion.”

And he stated: “The Public Audit Committee is therefore calling on the Scottish government to set out how it proposes to address this fatalistic attitude within deprived communities and some of Scotland’s ethnic minority communities.”

While Scotland has a higher ratio of GPs per head of population than elsewhere in the UK, the report said the current method for allocating resources meant this “did not necessarily provide higher GP levels in deprived communities”.

Mr Gray said: “We are therefore requesting that the Scottish Government reviews whether GP numbers are adequate to meet the needs of people in deprived communities and ethnic minority communities.”