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Scottish Government sets out plans for health and social care

As well as 'optimising and joining up services', the Health and Social Care Delivery Plan includes a commitment to strengthen the multi-disciplinary workforce across health services.

In October 2016 Audit Scotland released its annual review of the financial health and performance of the NHS in Scotland. Its conclusion was that Scotland's NHS boards were finding it difficult to balance demand for hospital care with investing in community-based services to meet future need.

The Scottish Government promised a written response and, on 20 December, published the Health and Social Care Delivery Plan, supported by £128 million of change funding in 2017-18. Commitments and objectives through to 2021 include reform of GP services, greater health and social care integration, better planning and more investment in mental health services.

Despite an increase of more than 4% in nursing and midwifery staff since 2006, in October 2016 the Royal College of Nursing warned of a potential staffing crisis in Scotland, exacerbated by an ageing workforce. 

"We recognise that change is needed," said Scottish Health Secretary Shona Robinson, "And last month published the Health and Social Care Delivery Plan to set out the actions and timescales to support healthcare professionals, charities and patient groups. By the end of this parliament we'll have increased health funding by almost £2 billion and delivery of the plan will be supported by record levels of investment in our health and care services..."

One of the key aspirations in the Health and Social Care Delivery Plan is that mental health should be given equal importance to physical health. The Scottish Government promises to 'drive forward a new approach to mental health that ensures support and treatment are mainstreamed across all parts of the health service – and beyond – and is not simply the responsibility of specialist services'.  A new 10-year mental health strategy is to be published in early 2017.

The Scottish Government acknowledges that delivering better outcomes for patients relies on having a committed, supported workforce that has the right skills, flexibility and support.  Also to be published in the next few months is The National Health and Social Care Workforce Plan. This will 'take forward the commitment to a sustainable workforce by establishing the priorities for action, assess current resources, and detail the actions to close the gap between what we have and what we will need to deliver high-quality, integrated and transformed services to those who need them'.

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