Scotland's National Health Service is our most precious institution. In our hour of greatest need during the pandemic the women and men who staff our NHS provided exemplary care in the most trying of circumstances.
Addressing the pandemic in order to save lives and protect our NHS has come at a difficult cost. It made the delivery of what would otherwise be the normal service of our NHS harder to deliver. It has meant some people waiting longer in pain for care, or even simply longer in doubt for diagnosis.
The aim of this plan is to drive the recovery of our NHS, not just to its pre-pandemic level but beyond. This recovery plan is backed with over £1 billion of targeted investment over the next 5 years to increase NHS capacity, deliver reforms in the delivery of care, and get everyone the treatment they need as quickly as is possible.
Of course, the process of recovery must have at its heart an acknowledgment and understanding of the challenges of the last year and more. Our health and social care staff have been extraordinary in their response to unprecedented demands and delivered services in new and sometimes unfamiliar ways. It is not easy to convey the full impact that working in pandemic conditions has had on staff, and indeed on the health and care system more generally. I take the opportunity once again to express my sincere thanks for the continued courage, commitment and professionalism of all staff during this time. I welcome their continuing support and invaluable insight and direction as we take the next steps on the road to recovery, remobilisation and renewal. Success in this endeavour can only be achieved if recovery of staff is intrinsic to our collective ambitions for renewing our NHS. Investment in support for staff wellbeing is therefore an essential and vital component of this recovery plan.
Whilst the NHS has sought to prioritise and maintain essential services, such as urgent, emergency, mental health, maternity and vital cancer care throughout the pandemic, we know that many people have had treatment delayed. The pausing of non-urgent elective procedures and screening, while unavoidable as part of our pandemic response, has resulted in delays to routine treatment and it has significantly lengthened waiting times for many patients. Primary and community care services, such as general practice, pharmacy, dentistry and eye care, have also been greatly impacted and are under significant pressure. Getting services back on track and tackling backlogs of care for patients as quickly as possible is essential, and this Plan sets out how we will do that safely and effectively, while being open and transparent about the scale of the challenge the NHS faces over the next few years.
This NHS Recovery Plan sets out key headline ambitions and actions to be developed and delivered now and over the next 5 years. While it is important to stress that recovery is the immediate task, this Plan is fundamentally about ensuring that the process of recovery also delivers long term sustainability. That is why service innovation and redesign - as well as creating additional capacity - is central to it. The plan will be reviewed regularly and reported on annually to ensure its actions and outcomes are delivered. We will also remain open to new ideas and initiatives that can help accelerate recovery and shape sustainable ways of working.
The task ahead will challenging and will take time to be fully realised, but I know with the right support we can see our NHS deliver a
successful and sustainable recovery for the people of Scotland.
Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care