Scotland’s health service turns 70 this year. We’re proud of our NHS, and all that it has achieved. Of course, none of its many successes would be possible without the hardworking doctors, nurses and other staff that work in it.
And these achievements are all the more remarkable considering the big challenges our health service faces, in common with developed nations the world over.
From tackling obesity to responding to an aging population, here are just five ways Scotland is leading the way on health.
1. This year Scotland will take world-leading action on alcohol misuse.
On 1 May 2018, Scotland will become the first country in the world to introduce Minimum Unit Pricing - action that could lead to 121 fewer deaths due to alcohol misuse every year.
2. The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has said that in the last year Scotland is making “greater strides” in improving child health than Westminster.
A new report, State of Child Health: one year on, found that Westminster was lagging behind the Scottish Government on the issue. The report highlights the introduction of new statutory child poverty targets; the new 10-year Mental Health Strategy; our commitment to more health visitors; and support for breastfeeding.
3. The First Minister has been invited to sit on a global health Task Force.
In recognition of Scotland’s bold and innovative policies to address public health challenges, like alcohol misuse and obesity, Nicola Sturgeon has been appointed to a new global health Task Force. The group - chaired by former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg and US Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers - will look at how fiscal policy can improve health.
4. Scotland will lead the UK with bold new action on obesity.
The Scottish Government is consulting on a new obesity strategy, including measures to restrict the promotion and advertising of food and drink high in fat, sugar and salt. Over £40 million will also be invested to deliver almost 100,000 supported weight management interventions for people with, or at risk of, Type 2 diabetes
And we support action at Westminster to ban broadcast advertising of foods high in fat, salt and sugar before the 9pm watershed.
5. Scotland is leading the UK on the integration of health and social care.
As more people live longer, healthier lives. This positive change means we need to rethink the way we deliver health and social care. That’s why we introduced new legislation to integrate health and social care, which came into force in April 2016.
Integration will ensure that patients are treated in the most appropriate place, with more people cared for in a homely setting. To deliver this, over the next year £550 million will be invested in social care and integration, with resources being transferred from the NHS to health and social care bodies.
Last year health think-tank the Nuffield Trust said that “There is much for England and Wales to learn” from Scotland’s approach.