Health literacy is important to us all, whether as an individual, carer, family member, volunteer, teacher, employer, or health and care worker. And we all have roles to play in improving our understanding, knowledge, confidence and skills.
When the Scottish Government first looked at the evidence on the impact of health literacy, in 2009, it was clear that it was time for action. We knew that healthcare information had to more clearly tackle the challenges we all face in our day-to-day life. It was less clear what needed to be done.
We published our first plan of action, Making it Easy, in 2014. Not only did this focus on improving people’s health knowledge and understanding, its actions:
- challenged the health and care system to remove the barriers that get in the way when we try to improve our wellbeing,
- raised awareness amongst the workforce of the hidden problem of health literacy and helped them respond better,
- built a go-to web place for health literacy news and tools,
- tested ideas for better designed services and more health literacy responsive organisations through a programme of work in NHS Tayside.
This was done by the many health literacy champions who are making a real change across our workplaces and communities. Together we are working hard to help Scotland to become a more health literate nation.
Our second plan, Making it Easier, builds on what we’ve learned so far. It moves us closer to removing barriers and preventing them being put there in the first place. It will improve how we design and deliver services for the future. It is a cornerstone of Realistic Medicine’s drive to better support people’s needs through shared decision-making.
Scotland has the chance to lead the way, in thought and deed, on this vital topic that sits at the heart of our person-centred aims. Here’s how we plan to do it.
Dr. Catherine Calderwood
Chief Medical Officer for Scotland