Radical action needed for NHS in Scotland, say experts

By Julie Griffiths on 02 February 2018 NHS Scotland

A new report sets out five radical recommendations for the future of healthcare in Scotland.

The report, entitled The Future for the NHS in Scotland, was published today (2 February 2018) by the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (RCPE) and the Good Governance Institute.

It follows a debate, which brought together health professionals and non-medical experts from a wide range of organisations. 
The experts established that the health system in Scotland must be prepared to take risks, and be more innovative when tackling challenges and planning for the future.
The report recommends stronger health and social care integration with joint financial arrangements and a new political agreement to ‘de-politicise’ integrated healthcare. It also recommends creating a public platform for more active public engagement focusing on the true cost of healthcare and the public’s essential role in the future design of health and social care.

The report suggests shifting the balance of care, informed by policy based on evidence, with a series of clear, collective outcomes underpinned by strong governance structures, as well as introducing new technologies with evidence-based implementation approaches, better supported and managed nationally.
RCPE president professor Derek Bell said: ‘The debate marked the beginning of a conversation about the steps required to enable change, so that progress can be made in Scotland’s health system. This conversation must now be moved forward at pace, in order to address some of the major challenges that the NHS in Scotland faces and ensure that we can deliver a world-class healthcare system for the future.
‘In particular, the RCPE thinks that attention must be given to the importance of governance as a means to deliver step change. Governance accountability is an area where more progress can be made, and the College wants to see this shared better across health and social care.’

Chief executive of the Good Governance Institute Andrew Corbett-Nolan added: ‘Good governance will be vital, as the health sector and Scottish Government grapple with some of the challenges that Scottish healthcare is faced with. The Future for the NHS in Scotland debate has started the discussion about the structures that could better support the delivery of health services more rapidly, and the Good Governance Institute believes that Integrated Joint Boards show promise in achieving this.
‘But there are a variety of other possibilities for improving healthcare delivery in Scotland, and the NHS in Scotland must put measures in places to keep pace with advances in digital healthcare, population health, artificial intelligence, and cybernetics. Digital technologies should be used to innovate more effectively, and crucially, the NHS in Scotland must secure better value from investments in its digital programmes.’