Review of health & care public holiday services

Identifying improvements for patients and staff

The Scottish Government is to commission a review of the way health and social care services are provided over public holiday periods.

The work follows Professor Sir Lewis Ritchie’s National Review of Primary Care Out of Hours Service and will be carried out in partnership with the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, RCN, BMA, other professional bodies, Health Boards and Integration Joint Boards.

It will look at availability across the whole health and social care system over public holiday weekends, and how hospital, community and social care services could be coordinated more effectively.

The review group will be tasked with identifying future actions that can avoid patients ending up in hospital unnecessarily over public holiday weekends, or ensuring they can be discharged more quickly if they are admitted.

Health Secretary Shona Robison said:

“It is important to recognise that thousands of NHS, social care, independent and third sector staff work extremely hard over public holidays throughout the year - providing a lifeline of care and support to patients throughout Scotland.

“While staff have been very busy over the last few weeks, as we tend to see in early January, it is to their credit that A&E performance has been maintained at similar levels to last year – and is significantly outperforming other parts of the UK.

“It is also testament to our practice of working with the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, RCN, BMA, Royal Pharmaceutical Society and other professional bodies to deliver improvements and share best practice.

“We want to build on this progress, and this review will examine what more can be done to reduce the impact of public holidays on patients who need care during this period.

“Services such as pharmacy, social work, GP, NHS 24, and hospital services including diagnostics, all have an important role to play in ensuring the smooth discharge of patients or avoiding unnecessary hospital admissions.

“With health and social care services now integrated, it is a fitting time to do this work. This is not about asking our doctors, nurses, social workers, pharmacists, or paramedics to work even harder, this is about looking at how we work in different, integrated ways to benefit both patients and service providers.”


The review will build upon the findings and actions from Professor Sir Lewis Ritchie’s National Review of Primary Care Out of Hours Service, which makes recommendations of how to improve the quality and safety of out of hours services and urgent care in Scotland.

The Review Group has been asked to report by Summer 2017, with any early recommendations being identified for implementation, where possible, before the Easter break.


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