The Scottish Government has a published an NHS recovery plan. They say the intention of the plan is to outline key ambitions and actions to be developed and delivered now and over the next 5 years, in order to address the backlog in care and meet ongoing healthcare needs for people across Scotland.

Commenting on the plan, Professor Andrew Elder, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh said:

The College broadly welcomes the development and release of this plan at this time, and would encourage the Scottish Government to continue to include patients, doctors and all other health and social care workers in the discussion about how to deliver it.

The allocation of substantial financial resource - with funding of 1 billion pounds over 5 years across the plan - is welcomed and necessary. However, it must be matched by the human resource required to deliver care. As such, whilst we greatly welcome, and have previously lobbied for, the increase in medical undergraduate places and widening access places, this will not provide the immediate support that is needed to realise the plan over the next five years. Given this, we must redouble efforts to attract doctors from outside Scotland, within the UK and internationally, to train or work in the country, and we must also ensure that those who already work here continue to wish to do so.

The report highlights the pressing issue of morale amongst health and social care workers and the need for the wellbeing of all staff to be made a priority. We welcome this and urge that such measures not only offer treatment and support when problems develop for staff, but also prevent morale declining and burnout developing in the first instance. In turn, that in itself often means more staff, as it is the pressure of time constraints imposed upon clinical staff that creates much of the anxiety that clinicians experience.

Whilst it is clearly important that specific conditions, such as cancer, are targeted appropriately, we should remember that our ageing population typically have multiple health problems, and service redesign must take this into account. Similarly, whilst measures to enhance urgent care and also to prevent hospital admission are welcome, matched efforts must be made to ensure that all patients who are ready to return home from hospital can do so. Only by tackling issues at both the “front door” and “back door” of our hospitals will capacity for in-patient care reach its full potential.