Next steps for NHS Scotland

Services to be restored safely and gradually based on clinical advice.

NHS Scotland will begin resuming some services that have been suspended, delayed or deferred due to coronavirus (COVID-19), whilst continuing to protect emergency, urgent and maternity care.

‘Re-mobilise, Recover, Re-design, The Framework for NHS Scotland’ sets out how Health Boards will follow national and local clinical advice to safely and gradually prioritise the resumption of some paused services. Health boards will introduce these plans while maintaining COVID-19 capacity and resilience and providing appropriate support for social care.

The Interim Chief Medical Officer and National Clinical Director have provided an initial outline on what services could be prioritised in the next phase of Health Board mobilisation planning. These include:

  • cancer services, especially referrals and postponed treatments
  • expanding treatments for non-cancer urgent inpatients and outpatients
  • outpatient therapies where delay will increase the risk to patients, such as management of macular degeneration, paediatrics and respiratory services
  • mental health support
  • treatment room services such as blood monitoring and B12 injections

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said:

“The coronavirus pandemic has seen an unprecedented response from our NHS and care staff. Our fantastic staff have delivered a massive reorganisation of services in just a matter of weeks. This has ensured that our NHS has not been overwhelmed. 

“We are taking an evidence-based, cautious and phased approach to resuming services to ensure the virus continues to be suppressed. While NHS Scotland will remain on an emergency footing, this framework sets out our approach for the next phases as we continue to respond to this pandemic.

“Our approach is not only driven by clinical priorities but also what matters to people’s quality of life like pain clinics, dental treatment and preventative work like cancer screening.”

Interim Chief Medical Officer Dr Gregor Smith said:

“Re-mobilise, Recover, Re-design, The Framework for NHS Scotland sets out the steps being taken to safely resume some paused NHS services across Scotland. It ensures that the successful steps taken to maintain services during the pandemic are learnt from and built upon. This includes the significant innovations introduced across the NHS to assess patients utilising digital technology.

“The reality is coronavirus is likely to be with us for some time to come, and so many changes made in the coming weeks and months have to be measured against the need to keep the virus under control, continuing to protect the NHS and save lives.

“Our approach will be informed by national and local clinical priorities. We will continue to work with health boards, local authorities, Royal Colleges, professional bodies, unions and other key stakeholders to ensure this is robust and up to date.”


 You can read Re-mobilise, Recover, Re-design, The Framework for NHS Scotland online.

NHS Boards have this week submitted their initial mobilisation plans, covering the period until the end of July. These plans are informed by NHS Remobilise, Recover, Redesign which is predicated on a range of national and local clinical priorities. Patients will be kept fully informed by local Boards as services are resumed.  

Services that are expected to be considered for resumption during Phase 1 are detailed in COVID-19: Scotland’s route map for transitioning through and out of the crisis. These include:

  • beginning to safely restart NHS services, covering primary, and community services including mental health
  • phased resumption of some GP services supported by an increase in digital consultations
  • roll out the NHS Pharmacy First Scotland service in community pharmacies
  • increase care offered at emergency dental hubs as practices prepare to open
  • increase provision of emergency eyecare in the community
  • considering the introduction of designated visitors to care homes

This is not an exhaustive list and flexibility is required to ensure health boards can respond appropriately on the basis of local clinical priorities.

 Boards and Health and Social Care Partnerships are working in partnership to safely restart previously paused services across Mental Health and Community and Primary Care. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has given the four NHS IVF Centres in Scotland approval to resume services. NHS Scotland will now work to ensure all services resume in a safe and timely way.


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