Health services in rest of UK could 'learn lessons' from Scotland

The NHS in England, Wales and Northern Ireland could learn lessons on improving quality and safety of patient care from the Scottish health service, according to a report.

Health services in rest of UK could 'learn lessons' from Scotland

The Nuffield Trust report found that NHS Scotland had a unique system for improving the quality and safety of patient care. And it has benefited from sticking to one policy rather than changing it every few years.
However, the strengths in NHS Scotland are under threat from financial pressures. In addition, the country's 'polarised politics' could make it hard to make difficult decisions.

NHS Scotland needs to make average savings this year of more than 4%, which is higher than those in England and Wales.

The report Learning from Scotland's NHS said that the Scotland is adept at engaging frontline staff in the process of improving patient safety and care.
The Nuffield Trust praised the emphasis placed on trusting clinical staff in Scotland, where it found they were encouraged to drive improvements in care.

In contrast, it said there was a focus on targets in the health services in other parts of the UK, particularly in England, and managers – rather than clinicians – were tasked with improving care quality. 

The health charity's report said that NHS Scotland is good at testing new ways of working on a small scale, where they can be changed quickly if necessary, before being rolled out.

Unlike the rest of the UK, the system is overseen by a single organisation, Healthcare Improvement Scotland, which both monitors quality of care, and helps staff to improve it.

It also highlights pioneering initiatives, like the use of video links for outpatient care in remote areas, to tackle Scotland's geographical challenges. These should be considered in other parts of the UK facing similar issues, it said.