Healthcare science national delivery plan 2015 to 2020: final report

The first Scottish Healthcare Science National Delivery Plan 2015 to 2020 "Driving Improvement, Delivering Results" was published in May 2015. The final report informs the key achievements and future priorities for the Healthcare Science profession in Scotland.


The Final Report for the Healthcare Science Delivery Plan came at a time when the NHS is recovering from the greatest health challenge it has ever faced. The impact of COVID-19 has tested every part of our infrastructure, particularly the NHS. The global pandemic limited access to services, disrupted workforce education and training and exposed longstanding health inequalities. The time needed to recover is significant and the pressures from the pandemic will be felt beyond 2021.

The Final Report for Scotland’s Healthcare Science National Delivery Plan Driving Improvement, Delivering Results 2015–2020, therefore puts a welcome spotlight on how innovation can take place to ensure sustainable recovery of NHS Scotland so that, in the following decades of the 21st century, the skills of the Healthcare Science workforce are not only maximised but also used most effectively to meet the changing needs of the population in Scotland.

The Delivery Plan introduced a series of deliverables and programmes to maximise the Healthcare Science contribution to achieving high-quality, sustainable and effective health and care services. This report provides key overview of successes and learning from the last six years. In particular the report illustrates a range of initiatives in which system leaders across Health Boards may be interested in building on as part of their efforts to support Realistic Medicine principles such as the National Demand Optimisation Programme. In the course of the final report and my first year in Government as Chief Officer, I have liaised with a great number of people who instinctively recognise this potential including NHS Board Chief Executives, Healthcare Science Leads and members of the workforce across all specialisms.

At present the challenges the workforce and system are facing every day are immense and the report highlights the added value achieved for the people of Scotland when effective clinical governance, new ways of working and innovative approaches are in place and encouraged. The key messages of leadership, value based healthcare and partnership working encourage us to build on this momentum for change, as we continue to drive improvement and deliver results.

There are many people I want to thank for their contribution to the work of this delivery plan. First, I am thankful to Karen Stewart, the Scottish Government Healthcare Science Officer who, as National Policy Lead has been the driving force behind this work, supported by the leadership of Healthcare Science Leads in Health Boards and further endorsed by the Chief Medical Officer. The delivery plan was also greatly assisted by officials from the Chief Nursing Officer Directorate and the Chief Medical Officer Directorate.

The unstinting effort and enthusiasm from all stakeholders towards delivery of the five improvement programmes has been exemplary. I trust that this report will be of great value to you all.

Catherine Ross

Chief Healthcare Science Officer, Scottish Government



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