Richard Norris Pic_thumbSince March I have been working with colleagues in the Academy of Government to explore new ideas in health and social care. While I am already listening to people working in services, and linking up with academics, I want to use this blog to explain the purpose of my work, and give you the chance to let me know what you think.

Things are changing in the way we deliver health and social care services in Scotland. We are at the start of a new era. No one believes that going on as we are is a credible option.

This country is bringing the delivery of health and social care together for the first time. New technologies are increasingly available. Whilst it is good that people are living longer, we face the demographic changes of an ageing population. Service users and communities across Scotland rightly want to have more say. And rising demand, rising costs and pressures on Government finances means money is stretched. All this has created a need for rapid change and the prospect of a health and social care system that will be completely transformed in 10 to 15 years time.

These developments will present tremendous opportunities for improving care and utilising new technologies to provide cutting edge treatment, but will also present challenges about how to prioritise and make best use of limited resources.

Through my work at Healthcare Improvement Scotland, it is clear our organisation is in a unique position to support policy makers, communities and the services themselves. We have a wealth of knowledge and intelligence from our work with stakeholders across a broad spectrum of health and social care, bringing together the areas of improvement support, evidence, assurance and public involvement.

That is why I am currently working with the University of Edinburgh’s Academy of Government on an initiative to provide the evidence on which we can base our plans for the future of health and social care in Scotland. I will be bringing together academics, researchers, people working in services, community representatives and policy makers to develop policy ideas to inform and influence public policy in Scotland.

The themes I am looking at include:

  • the likely impact of emerging technologies, future policy direction and financial resources on the delivery of health and social care services
  • the most effective ways to ensure that user voices, and citizen voices, are heard distinctively and fairly, particularly when they deliver different contrasting messages
  • how decision making structures can gain the confidence of local communities, professionals, providers and other stakeholders, and
  • the rise in interest in participatory and deliberative approaches to involving citizens and how these can be balanced with the need for effective decision making

The changes that are coming to health and social care in Scotland are not specific to Scotland; all health and social care systems are undergoing similar transformations, and I will be keen learn how all parts of the NHS in the UK and beyond are approaching these issues. I will be blogging at regular intervals throughout the next year on these topics, featuring the thoughts and ideas that I encounter. Some will no doubt will be controversial. One of my chief concerns is how do we have a vibrant policy discussion in Scotland that is not confined to ‘experts’, captured by special interests, or limited by any political constraints. If you have any ideas or suggestions, please drop me a line!

Visit the Healthcare Improvement Scotland website