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Future and Sustainability of NHS Scotland

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04 Jun 2015

'Change is needed now if we are to put the NHS in Scotland on a sustainable footing’, says Medical and Nursing Royal Colleges

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and Faculties in Scotland and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Scotland today issue a joint statement warning that difficult decisions need to be made now with the public about how and where money is invested in health services, if the NHS is to be sustainable for current and future generations of people in Scotland.

This is the first time that all the Royal Colleges in Scotland have spoken with a single voice and emphasises the urgent need for action.

Commenting, Chair of the Academy and President of The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh Mr Ian Ritchie, said: “We’re all committed to an NHS that is publicly funded and publicly delivered. Yet we’re seeing day in, day out, the immense pressure which the NHS is under, as patient demand and public expectations soar and funding is unable to keep up, even with increases in the NHS budget.”

RCN Scotland Director Theresa Fyffe added: “Tinkering around the edges and simply putting more and more money into the current system is not the answer. We know we cannot continue to deliver services the way we have done up to now and it is up to us, as professional leaders who share a collective aim and represent health professionals working on the frontline, to step forward and take a leading role in kick-starting the public debate that needs to take place about the future of our NHS.”

The joint statement issued today is based entirely on discussions at a meeting of all health professionals earlier this year, where there was unanimous agreement that everyone – including the public, all health professionals, health boards, politicians and the Government – need to work together if our health services are to be put on a sustainable footing.


The Royal Colleges leading this work have agreed four key areas of activity – based on those earlier discussions – which will have the greatest impact:

  • A genuine public debate on change
  • A new approach to targets
  • New ways of delivering care
  • Improved inter-professional working

Mr Ritchie continues: “For each of these activities, the Academy and the RCN have made a number of commitments to drive change forward. We know that the way services are delivered has not kept up with the advances in patient care and treatment. What we require, urgently, is to develop new models of care which are fit for the future. And, given that it’s our members who will have to implement these new models of care, we are committed to working across our health service to make sure this happens.”

On the need for a new approach to targets, RCN Scotland Director Theresa Fyffe says:  “We know that targets can often skew clinical priorities and waste resources. There needs to be a new, evidence-based model for measuring success, focusing on better outcomes for patients and our health services.

“Without change now, we’re putting at risk the sustainability of our NHS.  So the Royal Colleges have come together to raise concerns and put forward actions we believe will make a difference and call on all those involved to work with us to secure its future.

Mr Ritchie concluded: “The time for talking and political point scoring has passed. We need to take practical action, together, now.”

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