Emergency Ambulance driving through Grassmarket in Edinburgh

Scotland supporting health ahead of winter

The Scottish Government has announced new funding that will boost recruitment in the Scottish Ambulance Service, whilst also expanding other measures such as Hospital at Home.

This is being done to support the health and care system as we approach the winter months and is part of a joint Winter Plan between the Scottish Government and COSLA (The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities). In the Winter Plan, new funding has been identified to support the Scottish Ambulance Service as it works to recruit additional staff to help increase the capacity that is available for emergency response. Alongside this, a further 18 clinicians will work in the call centre hub to offer alternative treatment routes to patients that don’t require time-critical help.

The Hospital at Home programme is being expanded too, with this helping people to receive treatment at home instead of on a ward. This expansion is anticipated to deliver at least 380 additional hospital beds this over the winter.

Michael Matheson Quote

Michael Matheson, Scottish Health Secretary, said:

“Our highly skilled and committed workforce are the cornerstone of our response every winter, both in health and social care. I am extremely grateful for their continued hard work and dedication in the face of sustained pressure. As we approach the Winter period their efforts will be vital in ensuring we deliver high quality care for the public.

“We are in no doubt that this winter will be extremely challenging for our health and social care system. Our Winter plan builds on the lessons we have learned from previous years and preparations have been on-going since spring. Our whole system approach is based on ensuring people can access the care that is right for them – at the right time and in the right place.

“Our additional investment of up to £12 million to expand the Hospital at Home service will allow people, especially elderly patients, patients with respiratory conditions and children, to receive treatments in the comfort of their own home and will crucially help reduce pressure on our A&E departments this winter.

“As a result, our significant investment of over £15 million, an additional 1,000 nurses, midwives, and Allied Health Professional from overseas have joined NHS Scotland in the last two years to bolster our existing workforce this winter. Our £50 million funding boost for the Scottish Ambulance Service will also help tackle increased demand and support on-going recruitment to drive up capacity for emergency response. This investment will also help reduce the need for people to go to hospital which is a key part of our approach this winter.”

The government and COSLA have been working together closely, alongside Health and Social Care Partnerships and NHS Boards as they look to identify other measures that will help them to be prepared for the winter period. Included in this is a Delayed Discharge Action Plan, as well as enhancements in how data is reported to identify further support.

COSLA’s Health and Social Care Spokesperson, Cllr Paul Kelly, added:

“As key partners in ensuring people and communities are safe and cared for over the winter period, and indeed throughout the year, local authorities have a vital role in enabling people to continue to safely access the care and support they need when they need it. We expect the winter to be a very challenging period across the whole health and social care system at a time when the system is already experiencing significant demand pressures and challenges with recruitment and retention. That is why COSLA have worked closely with Scottish Government in producing this plan, recognising the importance of the integration of health and social care, and the clear leadership role of Local Government in doing everything we can to maximise capacity across health, social care, and social work, and ensure people get safe and timely access to services during peak winter pressures.”


Image credit: iStock

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