NHS Scotland - winter preparedness plan: 2020 to 2021

The Winter Preparedness Plan sets out, at a high level, the broad context and priorities for the NHS in Scotland until March 2021.

Essential Services – Routine and Planned

Over the recent months, health boards have begun safely restarting many routine and planned care services, including elective procedures, and we plan to continue this work through winter – balancing activity levels with maintaining sufficient capacity for Covid-19 resurgence or winter pressures.


  • Primary and community care services are open and accessible, including GP, optometry, dentistry and community pharmacy, and an action plan to support OOH resilience over winter is being initiated.
  • Maximise the use of NHS Golden Jubilee, NHS Louisa Jordan and the independent sector for elective activity, using clinical urgency to prioritise decisions on patients’ treatment.
  • Deliver the Pain Management Framework, providing appropriate support for patients suffering chronic pain.
  • Commence a tailored programme of enhanced improvement support for mental health services.
  • Implement Framework for Supporting People through Recovery and Rehabilitation during and after the COVID-19 Pandemic.
  • Maximise input from community nursing and Allied Health Professionals to support wellbeing, enhance provision of social care and treatments available in community settings and reduce hospital admissions.

How We Will Deliver This

  • Continue to ensure safe access to GP, optometry and dental services, and continue to deliver and enhance NHS Pharmacy First Scotland service from all community pharmacies.
  • Professional Advisor for Allied Health Professions to be in post End-Sept (Recovery and Rehabilitation) National Advisory Board established by Dec 2020 (Recovery and Rehabilitation).
  • Restore the full range of NHS dental care available to patients from November.
  • Ensure appropriate measures are in place to keep community pharmacies open, safe and COVID-19-free.
  • Provide funding to boards (£78.6m) to, where possible, enhance their elective activity as per their Remobilisation Plans, optimising the use of available capacity in Golden Jubilee National Hospital, NHS Louisa Jordan and the independent sector.
  • Build on the use of Near Me and telephone consultations to ensure people can continue to access the care they need,
  • Build on established arrangements with independent sector hospitals to access available capacity.
  • NHS boards have been requested to submit their plans for the delivery of pain management services by 9 October.
  • By end 2020, engage with all NHS boards to support them to respond effectively to the anticipated increase in demand for mental health support in the months ahead.
  • We will continue to work, over the coming months, with a range of specialties, the public and third sector, to develop a Women’s Health Plan to underpin women’s health inequalities by raising awareness around women’s health and improving access to healthcare for women throughout their lives.


Email: Winter_Planning_Team_Mailbox@gov.scot

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