A joint report by the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and the Good Governance Institute has been published, which sets out five radical recommendations for the future of healthcare in Scotland.

The report, entitled the Future for the NHS in Scotland, follows a debate which took place on 26 September at the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, which brought together health professionals and non-medical experts from a wide range of organisations, including Professor Derek Bell OBE, President of the College. Representatives from NHS Tayside, NHS Lothian, Audit Scotland, the Faculty of Advocates, and the Good Governance Institute were also in attendance, as well as Lord Newby, Liberal Democrat Leader of the House of Lords. The event was chaired by Professor Michael Deighan.

The experts agreed that healthcare in Scotland is facing some significant challenges, and that there is an urgent requirement for radical action. They 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.

•  A new political agreement to “de-politicise” integrated healthcare.

•  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.

•  Shifting the balance of care, informed by policy based on evidence, with a series of clear, collective outcomes underpinned by strong governance structures.

•  Introduce new technologies with evidence-based implementation approaches, better supported and managed nationally.

Commenting on the report, Professor Derek Bell OBE, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, said:

“The Future for the NHS in Scotland 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 Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh 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.”

Dr Andrew Corbett-Nolan, Chief Executive of the Good Governance Institute, 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 place 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.”

Paul Gillen

Contact: Paul Gillen p.gillen@rcpe.ac.uk 0131 247 3658
Further information: