Decisions are made to shape health care for generations to come, rather than focussing on short-term goals.
That’s one of the five things which RCN Scotland’s 2016 manifesto Nursing Scotland’s Future: Professional voices, practical solutions asks those standing for election on 5th May to commit to.
Candidates from all parties have added their name to the Nursing Scotland’s Future campaign, but as polling day draws closer, the question is: how far will the next Parliament go to ensure that Scotland’s healthcare services are fit for the future?
Because if there is a genuine will to transform Scotland’s health and healthcare services, tinkering around the edges will not cut it. There needs to be a new definition of success in health, and ensuring that patients’ longer-term outcomes take centre stage is a good place to start.
Last year, for the first time, RCN Scotland and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and Faculties in Scotland spoke with a single voice on the urgent need to ensure the future sustainability of the NHS. One of the arguments RCN put forward was that targets – and other measures that shape priorities in our health and care services – need an urgent overhaul. Why? Because RCN believes that success should mean better outcomes for patients, and the sustainable improvement of services. And current targets don’t work like that.
In the past, targets have improved care in the NHS, but what we see and hear from our members is that those same targets are now leading to waste and skewed priorities. When funding is tight and demand is growing, Scotland’s services simply can’t afford to keep working in the same way.
RCN wants the focus to move away from looking at numbers and processes and instead concentrate on sustainable services which deliver better outcomes for patients.
But it’s difficult to know how exactly success should be measured. That’s why this year RCN asked six leading thinkers in Scotland to answer the question ‘If Scotland’s current framework of NHS targets has had its day, what next?’ The responses were all unique and thoughtful.
Lisa Curtice from the ALLIANCE, for example, said we need to radically reimagine Scotland’s health and social care services to focus on relationships, assets and personal outcomes, trusting “that the whole will be bigger than the sum of the parts, that the only outcome that counts is whether the person’s wellbeing is enhanced or maintained”. She also said “that no one discipline or service has all the answers.”
With Lisa’s words in mind, RCN has been out speaking to colleagues from across health and social care – NHS, local authorities and the third and independent sectors. The views, knowledge and experiences that people have shared are now helping to shape RCN’s views on targets and how Scotland can better define, measure and invest in success.
In June, shortly after Scotland’s Parliament sits again and as the Government cogs begin to turn, RCN will set out some principles which could shape the future of targets. That work will hopefully find some common ground amongst health and social care colleagues, as well as with the public and politicians, so that Scotland can adopt a new approach to targets – one which will genuinely, and sustainably, improve the health and wellbeing of people and communities across the country.