Cleft surgery recommendation

Procedures to take place on single site in Glasgow.

Surgical procedures for cleft patients will be consolidated on a single site in Glasgow subject to a number of conditions being met, Health Secretary Shona Robison has announced.

The expert surgical teams from Edinburgh and Glasgow will now work together as a single collaborative team, performing all cleft surgery on one site, ensuring a safe and sustainable service for cleft patients across Scotland.

The new services will start early in the new year, with a transition period of 6 months towards a single surgical team. It will only apply to surgical procedures, with no reduction in the number of local outreach clinics.

The recommendation from NHS Board Chief Executives and experts has been accepted following a review into the current set-up.

Dr Catherine Calderwood, Chief Medical Officer and Professor Jason Leitch, National Clinical Director have supported the decision, as well as the Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow.

There are approximately 100 new cleft cases each year in the consolidation of surgery services will ensure the even distribution of cases across the expert team.

Ms Robison said:

“I have accepted this recommendation from the expert group who have advised that consolidating these procedures will deliver a more sustainable service and improve equity in outcomes for patients, which is our main aim when making any decision. We have been careful to ensure that there are a number of conditions in place to aid a smooth transition for both staff and patients.

“This decision relates to cleft surgery only. The wider teams involved in cleft care including, speech and language therapy, orthodontists, ENT surgeons and paediatric dentistry, as well as local outreach clinics, will continue to be delivered locally as they are now, across Scotland.

“We will have cleft surgeons working alongside one another and sharing best practice and knowledge, with an even distribution of surgical procedures, which means patients will get the treatment they need when they need it.

“In any scenario like this it’s important to spend time listening to patients, families, stakeholders and experts, which is what I have done, so we can come to a fully informed decision that is in the best interests of cleft patients.”


Among the conditions set by the Health Secretary to allow the process to go ahead are:

  • Scotland will participate more actively in UK Cleft Audit to inform and drive improvement in patient outcomes.
  • The surgical team will ensure a consistent approach to outreach clinics across Scotland, with no deterioration in service.
  • The number of local outreach clinics will not reduce in number and will very much be determined by patient need.
  • As commissioner of all national services including cleft surgery, National Services Division (NSD) will monitor the implementation/transition and provide feedback.


Media enquiries

Back to top