The College has welcomed the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government (PfG), which includes a heavy focus on COVID-19 and post-covid recovery.

The College notes in particular that routine services are being restarted across the country, with the approach and timing in each area being tailored to individual circumstances and demands. We understand that the Scottish Government is working closely with health boards on the further development and implementation of their individual mobilisation plans – and we would encourage maximum clinical input during this process.

It is also encouraging that PfG includes a commitment to redesign Scotland’s accident and emergency services, to ensure patients get safe and effective care in a way that protects them from exposure to COVID‑19.

Commenting on PfG, Professor Angela Thomas OBE, acting president of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh said:

It is right that the Scottish Government has made COVID-19 its priority in the Programme for Government. We think that in particular, there must be sufficient focus on post-covid recovery of health services but beyond that, we hope that the Scottish Government will strengthen mental health services and embrace the benefits of rethinking how health services are delivered.

While we have a quality health service run by brilliant and dedicated healthcare workers who must be supported and valued, patient-focused care must be at the heart of what the NHS does. Part of that is thinking about improving health services through redesign. We are encouraged that early discussions have taken place around health service redesign, which could enable patients to receive better care outcomes through improvements in care quality and efficiency.

The College has welcomed a range of other health policy announcements including:

  • On diet and obesity: a targeted approach to improve healthy eating for those on low incomes, with legislation on Restricting Food Promotions, and work to increase participation in physical activity, including social prescribing.
  • On workforce: a £5 million to support the wellbeing of health and care workers; a Workforce Specialist Service; and extending the offer of seasonal flu vaccination to all social care workers who provide direct personal care, all those 55 years and over, all those sharing a household with people who are in the shielding category for the purposes of COVID‑19, and those aged 50‑54 depending on vaccine supplies.
  • On mental health: a Mental Health Transition and Recovery Plan will be published; Mental Health Assessment Centres will be retained and developed, and a new suicide public awareness campaign is to be launched.
  • On inequalities: enabling better collection and use of minority ethnic health data, to ensure the public health response is properly focused, and the Health Literacy Action Plan to improve health literacy, ensuring that information about care and support is delivered by professionals in a way that is accessible and easy to understand.
  • On alcohol, drugs and smoking: £3 million for Scotland’s Alcohol and Drug Partnerships to deliver on the six evidence‑based strategies set out by the Taskforce to reduce deaths and harms; a consultation on restricting alcohol and e-cigarette promotion, restricting e-cigarettes and removing smoking from outside hospitals.

It is also important to note that an independent review of the care system will take place, to examine how adult social care can be most effectively reformed to deliver a national approach to care and support services. The review will report by January 2021, and it will include consideration of a National Care Service.

Finally, the College has welcomed the announcement of a national thrombectomy service for Scotland, which we believe could help save the lives of stroke patients, and avoid significant life-changing disability for people who have suffered a stroke. We ran a campaign in 2019 calling for a national thrombectomy service for Scotland.