[Previous] [Contents] [Next]
Susan Deacon MSP, Minister for Health and Community Care
"We must build an NHS which listens better to patients and responds more effectively to their needs."
Good health matters. It matters to people, it matters to our country. Without good health we cannot fulfil our potential and our nation cannot thrive. People care about their health and they care about their health service. Our challenge now is to work together to improve both.
Over the last few years a new direction of travel has been mapped out for health policy and for the NHS in Scotland. There will always be differences of emphasis and opinion, but there is a broad consensus for the policy framework now in place. The challenge is to translate policy into practice, identify good practice and make it universal and ensure that additional investment delivers results. This Plan signals a shift from the development of policy to the delivery of change. It sets out our priorities for investment and reform and provides a platform on which we can build for the future.
Rebuilding our National Health Service is at the heart of our work. The NHS is our biggest and most important public service. Every day the NHS cares for thousands of Scots. Every day the NHS saves hundreds of lives. We can be proud of our NHS_the skills and dedication of its staff and, in many areas, world-class clinical practice. But, while we have a solid foundation upon which to build, there is work to be done to deliver a genuinely modern 21st century NHS where patients really do come first.
"The NHS is one of the things that holds us together, it was set up to help people regardless of class or race."
Too many people wait too long for treatment and care. Too many people get shunted from one part of the system to another without their needs being properly addressed. Too many people feel undervalued by a system where often the interests of providers come before the needs of patients. Too many people find services difficult to access. Too often, staff and patients are let down by weaknesses in the system.
The NHS has suffered from many years of under-investment and short-term thinking. The internal market led to fragmentation and division and undermined the public service ethos of the NHS. It will take many years to turn this situation around_but a significant start has been made. The Health Act, which came into effect last year, abolished the internal market. The number of NHS Trusts was halved, reducing bureaucracy and freeing up valuable resources for patient care. A new structure was put in place based on collaboration rather than on competition. But much more needs to be done to rebuild our health service as a truly National Health Service.
Since devolution, we have worked hard to forge a new spirit of partnership and co-operation within the NHS in Scotland and to rebuild it as a public service where patients genuinely do come first. We have matched that commitment with extra investment. This year health spending has been increased by an extra £481 million, taking the total health budget to £5.4 billion. More than £400 million extra has been committed for each of the next three years. Next year every Scottish NHS Health Board will receive an increase of at least 5.5%, more than twice the rate of inflation. And, under the new, fairer funding formula, those areas of greatest need will receive even more for example Greater Glasgow NHS Health Board will next year receive an extra £60 million, an increase of 7.7%.
But spending more is only half the picture we need also to spend better and to ensure that investment is matched by reform.
Additional investment in the right areas is key to achieving improvements. But so too is the need for new and better ways of working to ensure that patients needs are met. Unnecessary professional demarcations, needless bureaucracy and poor communications all stand in the way of the delivery of effective patient-centred services. This must be tackled.
We must build an NHS which listens better to patients and responds more effectively to their needs. After all, the NHS belongs to one group, and one group only. The people of Scotland. It's your NHS.
We must recognise also that an effective NHS and a healthier nation will not be achieved simply by improving the treatment of ill health. Prevention is as important as cure. Our aim should not be simply to get better at treating more sick people in hospital but to get better at enabling more people to stay well and to stay out of hospital.
Good health cannot be achieved just by the actions of government or of the NHS. We must work together to build a national effort to improve health. Employers, Local Authorities, schools, voluntary organisations, the public, and private sectors and the media all have a part to play. And as individuals we all have a responsibility for our own health.
Tackling inequalities in health is central to our commitment to social justice. The health gap between rich and poor in Scotland is stark. That is why, across our work in the Scottish Executive, we are determined to address the root causes of ill-health_poverty, poor housing, homelessness, lack of educational and economic opportunity and poor self-esteem.
The agenda is complex and demanding, but it is one which is now being tackled with greater vigour than ever before. At the heart of our approach is partnership. Everyone has a right, and a responsibility, to join together in a national effort for improvement and change.
It is the responsibility of Government to lead. That is why this Plan makes explicit the Executive's key aims and priorities. In turn, however, we are providing an opportunity for a wide range of people and organisations to contribute to the development and implementation of this Plan and to influence the delivery of policy at a local level.
There are no magic solutions or quick fixes to many of the issues we face. Some changes will take years not months to achieve. But we now have an unparalleled opportunity. Record investment and a widespread appetite for change combined with the determination and commitment to work together to bring that change about.
This plan marks the start of that change process
"WE MUST WORK TOGETHER TO BUILD A NATIONAL EFFORT TO IMPROVE HEALTH"
[Previous] [Contents] [Next]