Your NHS

There is not a single person in Scotland today whose life has not been touched in some way by the NHS.

For some, it may be something as simple as having an eye test, picking up a prescription or making a routine appointment with a family doctor. For others, it may be more complex, involving sophisticated diagnostic tests or hospital treatment. Whatever the need, it will be met by health care staff who are among the best trained and most highly skilled in the world.

I have been fortunate to have been the Chief Executive of the NHS in Scotland for the past 3½ years. I consider it an honour to work as part of a diverse, committed and highly professional team of people and to lead an organisation that, after sixty years, continues to be valued so highly by the people of Scotland.

A few months ago we published an action plan called Better Health, Better Care, which sets out the way in which we want to see our service get even stronger in the future. It describes a mutual NHS in which our patients and the people who work for us, have a clear stake in the running of their organisation. The NHS is paid for and owned by the public and we are committed to strengthening their voice in the way their service is run.

The NHS must play its part, along with its partners in helping people to sustain and improve their health. We want to encourage people to make healthy choices about their lives - stopping smoking, avoiding excessive alcohol consumption, eating a healthy diet and taking appropriate physical exercise. When people ask for professional support and advice on any of these issues, I want to ensure that the NHS is there to provide it. This is particularly important in some of our more disadvantaged communities as the NHS plays its part in addressing both the causes and consequences of the unacceptable levels of health inequality in our society.

We need to do all we can to continually improve the quality of the services we offer. This means that we need to listen to the experiences of our patients – good and bad – and learn from what they are telling us. It means a constant focus on patient safety in everything we do, with new resources to tackle healthcare acquired infections such as MRSA. It means extending the hours in which people can see their GP and building on our recent success in reducing waiting times by delivering a maximum 18 week “whole journey” treatment guarantee by 2011.

All this requires investment. The NHS spends around £11 billion of taxpayers money every year and we have a duty to spend that money wisely. That is why we are focussing on improving levels of productivity, eliminating waste and tackling variations in quality.

I have spent much of my life involved in the NHS. I’ve been cared for as a patient and challenged as a leader. Throughout all this time I have seen professionalism, dedication and a real commitment to improving the lives of the people who turn to us for help. The people of Scotland deserve the best health service their money can buy and everyone who works for NHS Scotland is determined to deliver it.

Dr Kevin Woods
Director – General Health and Chief Executive of NHSScotland

Kevin Woods, Director General Health and Chief Executive, NHSScotland.

Our Workforce

NHS staff support, treat and care for many thousands of people every day. It is their knowledge and skill that makes the NHS what it is today.

Considerable work has taken place over the last ten years in building a new model of partnership working with staff. It has resulted in Scotland becoming one of the only countries in the world to enshrine its relationship with NHS staff in legislation.

Clare Brennan
Health Workforce Directorate, Scottish Government

Partnership Working

The NHS is a particular source of pride for all trade union and professional organisations. Above all, it is a human service: people caring for other people, and different parts of the service working together in partnership. Members of our trade unions and professional organisations have been instrumental in the huge leaps forward in care and the population's health that the NHS has brought about.

John Gallacher, Regional Officer, Unison
Michael Fuller, Regional Officer, Unite the Union

Equalities and Planning

In 2008, NHSScotland has a fresh focus on delivering person-centred care. A new centre of expertise on diversity and health inequalities issues – the Equalities & Planning Directorate in NHS Health Scotland is providing support and leadership to NHS Boards in achieving this improvement.

A Time for Change

Addressing rights and inequalities over the past 60 years

Christopher Homfray
Equalities & Planning Directorate