Over the past three months, the NHS in Scotland has been on an emergency footing and has risen to the very significant challenges posed by the Covid19 pandemic. Capacity for intensive care and for those needing hospitalisation was made available at short notice so that our health service could cope with potential worst case demands in the first few weeks of the pandemic.
Staff have shown incredible resolve and flexibility, in many cases being deployed into new roles and into new ways of working across our national health and social care system.
This could not have been achieved without the cooperation and support of a range of organisations including trade unions and staff representatives, professional bodies, clinical networks and our partners in local authorities and in social care.
Urgent care service, such as for emergency care, cancer care, mental health, maternity and paediatrics, have been maintained throughout.
It is now time, cautiously and safely, to begin to start to restart as many aspects of our NHS as is possible. Our initial focus will be on services where further delay for individual patients would seriously risk their situation deteriorating and the condition worsening.
This is not straightforward. This framework document outlines how the NHS in Scotland will work to make the changes necessary to make this increase provision of services a reality.
Over the next 100 days our NHS has three core tasks;
1. Moving to deliver as many of its normal services as possible, as safely as possible;
2. Ensuring we have the capacity that is necessary to deal with the continuing presence of Covid-19;
3. Preparing the health and care services for the winter season, including replenishing stockpiles and readying services.
Clearly none of this can be achieved overnight, and we will keep our NHS on an emergency footing over this period to support their delivery.
Restoring normal services should not, though, mean losing the gains of the recent period in the swift rollout of new techniques, technology and clinically safe but faster pathways to care for patients. The rapid introduction of digital means of safe access across our primary and secondary care is one of the hallmarks of our response to the current emergency and we want to retain as much of that good practice as possible.
The principles outlined in this document serve as a blueprint for how our Health Boards' will take forward their plans in stages. Each Board, including national boards, is required to submit a first stage plan to the end of July. These plans will be constructed with local partners and government will take advice from our clinical, scientific and health and social care delivery partners on what services to safely resume and by when.
Jeane Freeman MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport