The Scottish Government has published its programme for government for the coming year. The health section provides the predictable long list of achievements. While this is expected, it unsurprisingly ignores the very real pressures that real term budget cuts are having on the service. Everything in the garden is apparently rosy, when self evidently it isn't.
The paper does helpfully reiterate the Scottish Government's approach to health service delivery by contrasting their approach with the shambles in England.
"Scottish Ministers have categorically ruled out the disruptive type of reforms and upheaval being put in place in NHS England, and are committed to continuing to provide high quality health and social care to the people of Scotland that reflects the true values of the people delivering health and social care services in Scotland. The internationally recognised successes Scotland’s health services have achieved have been earned through working in partnership across the Scottish Government, the wider public sector and with staff. Looking ahead, Scotland’s approach remains one of integration, collaboration, innovation, and a focus on outcomes."
There is one new Bill. The Mental Health and Adults with Incapacity Amendment Bill aims to improve the operation and efficiency of mental health legislation for service users and practitioners alike. It will implement recommendations from the McManus Review Group, which reviewed specific aspects of the Mental Health (Care & Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003. The Bill will also introduce new powers in relation to a Mental Disordered Offenders (MDO) Victims Notification Regime and will amend the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000 to remove the requirement for a single statutory ethics committee to consider all research-related applications involving incapacitated adults.
In addition to legislation, the programme includes other measures the government intends to implement in the coming year. These include:
providing a whole system response to improve the patient pathway in order to reduce pressure on Accident & Emergency (A&E) departments;
develop their strategy for engaging and empowering their workforce, providing a response in Scotland to addressing many of the issues raised by the Mid- Staffordshire/Francis Inquiry, and equipping them to work in an integrated way which reflects the different needs of different people and different places across Scotland;
achieve a sustainable performance on 4-hour A&E waits by the end of December 2013;
implement the world’s first national multiagency early years quality improvement programme across partner organisations to give Scotland’s children the best start in life;
achieve a measurable increase in early detection of cancer across Scotland, particularly in deprived areas, resulting in better outcomes.
Scottish Ministers regret the UK Government’s decision not to proceed with legislation to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes and other tobacco products. They will consult on the issue in the coming months, with the intention of introducing legislation in 2014-15. Similarly, the Scottish Government remains committed to introducing minimum pricing
per unit of alcohol, in order to reduce the terrible impacts of over-consumption. They will defend the legislation against any subsequent appeals in the courts.
As with other sections of the programme there is nothing remarkable or unexpected in the programme. The Scottish Government's focus is on the independence referendum and little else.