Delivering Innovation through Research - Scottish Government Health and Social Care Research Strategy

Document outlining the Scottish Government health research strategy for the next five years.


Andrew Morris

The vision of CSO is to support and increase the level of high-quality health research conducted in Scotland for the health and financial benefits of our population, so that Scotland is recognised globally as a "come to place" for health science.

"Delivering Innovation through Research" aims to provide clarity and coherence on what we need to do to achieve this vision, and identifies key areas where we can and should make a difference. In doing so, however, it is important to recognise the wider context of the research landscape. Our 2020 Vision for health and social care is that everyone is able to live longer healthier lives at home, or in a homely setting, supported by sustainable high-quality health and social care services in Scotland. Securing that vision remains a central theme of the Quality Strategy, but we are also looking to a longer horizon and have started a national conversation with the people of Scotland on the future of health and social care over the next 10 to 15 years. Research has a key role to play in supporting the delivery of that vision and in our planning for the longer term.

Looking forward in this context, we have identified six guiding principles that we believe will help maintain Scotland's position at the forefront of health research internationally:

  1. Build on the strong science infrastructure that exists across our Universities in Scotland;
  2. Deliver collaborative partnerships with a tripartite mission of research, education and delivery of quality health care and public health improvement;
  3. Exploit our ability to link information from health, social care and non-health sources using data to support better treatment, safety and research;
  4. De-clutter the pathway for the regulation and governance of health research by taking a proportionate and streamlined approach to research governance;
  5. Deliver collaborative arrangements with the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, informatics and medical devices industries;
  6. Position Scotland as a single research site when it makes good sense to do so.

Since taking up post as Chief Scientist I have been impressed by the range of research activities funded or co-ordinated through the Chief Scientist Office. To seek to progress them all with equal vigour would be beyond our means and indeed impractical for a country of our size.

This Strategy therefore focuses on four key areas for action that we feel will make a real difference to delivery, and will lend direct support to the guiding principles.

In addition I would like to emphasise the use of data and its contribution to health research in Scotland. Informatics is key to making the provision of high-quality health care sustainable, perhaps the biggest challenge facing all healthcare providers and governments in the next 20 years.

It is just over 40 years since the first Chief Scientist Sir Andrew Watt Kay described CSO in the Health Bulletin as "a partnership within which science will have more influence on the Government's central policy-making activities than before, and which will contribute more directly and more effectively to the task of making the best use of science and technology for the needs of the community as a whole". We believe that ambition of making best use of science is even more relevant now. "Delivering Innovation through Research" is therefore an important statement of ambition as we seek to improve health outcomes and support the improvement of NHSScotland over the next 40 years.

Professor Andrew Morris FRSE FMedSci
Chief Scientist Health


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