Health and social care: winter preparedness plan 2023-2024

This winter plan represents a whole system approach to responding to a surge in demand for health and social care services and sets out the actions to help relieve pressure points across the system. The measures outlined are applicable throughout the year when we may face increased pressures.

Our Principles and Priorities for Winter 2023/24

We have developed a set of planning principles and priorities to guide our health and social care services as we put people at the heart of what we do, whilst we build our resilience to meet changing demand, recognising that surges can occur at any time of the year and not just winter.

In developing our priorities, we have reflected on our approach in previous years and sought to build on what we know works, and stopped what has failed to have the desired impact, whilst strengthening our approach to both planning and delivery of the plan at a national level. In particular it is important for us to maintain a whole system focus given that people do not differentiate between the organisational boundaries in which each individual system operates, and given the knock-on impacts pressure in one part of the system has on others.

By ‘whole system’, we mean every interface between an individual and the health and social care system: from pharmacy, primary care, NHS Inform, NHS 24, the Scottish Ambulance Service, to A&E and acute and community hospital settings, and on into care provided at home or in a care home setting. Carers and the voluntary sectors have a key role to play within the system. A whole system approach recognises that pressures within any area of the health and care system will impact other areas, and that any actions taken must consider this interdependency.

The seven winter planning priorities, which we are empowering local systems to adopt, coalesce under three critical principles:

  • Right care, right time, right place
  • A partnership approach across the whole system
  • Local and national actions we know work



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