What if we were setting up care services for the very first time?

Guest post by Pennie Taylor , health specialist and journalist.


There is a wee mental challenge that I like to set myself occasionally… if  there was no existing NHS in Scotland, and right now we were setting up care services for the very first time, what would they look like and feel like?

If we were starting afresh, how would we go about harnessing our extraordinary national resources – both human and technological – to best support the sick and the vulnerable? What would we put in place to meet the health and care needs of our nation, making the most of what we know works, and what we have to hand?

Thanks to the National Conversation, these questions are no longer the realm of fantasy. Over the coming months we all have the chance to let our imaginations run free, picture health and care as we would like it to happen, and contribute to the thinking that will shape the services that people in Scotland receive into the future.

It is an exciting opportunity, and one that I sincerely hope we will all consider contributing to. Each and every one of us is expert in our own experience, and we all have valuable insight to bring to the discussions that will be taking place the length and breadth of the land. The days of leaving this sort of thinking to the professionals alone are past – if health and social care in Scotland is to thrive, everyone has a part to play in making that happen.

It is not going to be easy. There are significant challenges that have to be overcome. But I believe that by working together respectfully, sharing information openly and honestly, and having the courage to consider doing things differently, we can shape a future to be proud of.

There is no doubt that as Scots we love our NHS, value what it stands for, and are prepared to fight to protect its important place in our society. Heritage matters, but so does innovation and the ability to respond to circumstance. Given the pressures it faces on all fronts, if the NHS in Scotland is to rise to modern demands, it has to change. That need not be a cause for fear, but embraced as a chance to do things even better. All we need is the collective resolve to come together and make it happen. I’m up for it. Are you?

Published by

Healthier Scotland

The Scottish Government is inviting you to have your say on what a healthier Scotland should look like in the next 10 to 15 years.

2 thoughts on “What if we were setting up care services for the very first time?”

  1. “Innovation and the ability to respond to circumstance”. Absolutely. These two credentials are part of the reason why the third sector in Scotland is thriving. The ‘new NHS’ needs to develop and retain the ability to innovate and respond in order to be a continued success – a massive challenge when working on a large scale but not an impossible one. In the redesign and evolution of the NHS we should look to the third sector for examples of how innovative and responsive services can be developed that focus on the person and what matters to them.


  2. Yes a key element is trusting that people themselves (all people) have the potential to contribute to their own health and wellbeing and that of those around them. Actually these values were proven to work in the Pioneer Health Centre (aka the Peckham Experiment) (www.internationalfuturesforum.com/s/262) which, with its emphasis on wellbeing, community and self organising, was in many ways was the “road not taken” by the NHS first time round, and incidentally was created by a Scot! We need to take up that challenge of seeing primary care as a community hub, grounded in local communities, with local citizens co-producing support alongside professionals. The ALLIANCE’s Links Worker programme is an example of a third sector innovation that seeks to rebuild these links in our current fragmented landscape.

    Liked by 2 people

Comments are closed.