I am very pleased to present my fourth annual report as NHSScotland's Chief Executive.
Our vision is for a Scotland where everyone lives longer, healthier lives at home or in a homely setting. This guides our priorities for a health and social care system that is integrated, focused on anticipation and prevention, and in which care is provided in the right setting.
The achievements in this report are a tribute to the outstanding commitment of all staff working across NHSScotland and our partners to deliver the best health and social care outcomes for the people of Scotland. Their dedication and hard work are what allow us to make such significant progress and I greatly value and appreciate all they do.
In my recent Annual Reports, I have focused on how NHSScotland has been driving greater improvements in the care provided for people and how it is addressing the challenges which are now well-understood. As a whole, people are living longer and increasingly need services that can support multiple health conditions - and parts of Scotland continue to experience significant health inequalities.
Against this background, NHSScotland and its partners across the public and voluntary sectors continue to make progress. Our focus on quality continues to be at the heart of everything we do. The standards we have for the NHS in Scotland are world-class and this should be the backdrop when we consider how NHSScotland is performing.
The internationally-acclaimed Scottish Patient Safety Programme continues to drive improvements across a number of key areas of healthcare. We have seen reductions in Hospital Standardised Mortality Ratios within acute care - meaning that our approach to safety has significantly reduced deaths, and we have made and sustained significant improvements in reducing Healthcare Associated Infections.
We have seen positive trends in people's experience of care, and satisfaction with NHSScotland remains high. Ninety per cent of hospital inpatients who took part in this year's Scottish Inpatient Patient Experience Survey, rated their overall care and treatment as good or excellent – and 87 per cent of those who responded to the Health and Care Experience Survey rated the overall care provided by their GP practice as good or excellent. In other surveys, 92 per cent of women rated the overall care they received during pregnancy and birth as good or excellent and 94 per cent of patients rated their cancer care positively.
Scotland continues to deliver very good A&E performance, and we are seeing encouraging signs of improvement on delayed discharge and emergency bed day use.
But we are far from complacent. I recognise the challenges we face in meeting our standards for outpatient waits, mental health treatment and elective procedures. Pressures on recruitment continue in a number of specialisms, and we still have much to do to tackle the inequalities that exist across Scotland.
We are taking decisive action to reduce smoking rates and encourage people to live healthier, more active lives, and in a very recent development, the Judgment from the UK Supreme Court clears the way for minimum pricing for alcohol. This is a landmark ruling that allows a bold move which will save lives and protect public health across Scotland.
There is also no dispute that transformational change is needed in the way that we deliver health and social care in Scotland.
The publication of the Health and Social Care Delivery Plan in December 2016 signalled our determination to put in place a framework for transformational change that brings together our priorities for driving the further improvements we seek. It is important now that we work collectively across the whole of our health and social care system to deliver these priorities, ensuring that people have access to the best possible care when they need it, and that we manage our resources efficiently and sustainably in pursuit of that aim.
There is still a long way to go but I hope my annual report gives us the opportunity to celebrate our success and reflect on the work still to do.
I am grateful for the ongoing dedication of our committed NHSScotland workforce and colleagues in our partner organisations, and I hope that you enjoy finding out about their collective achievements.
Chief Executive, NHSScotland and Director-General Health and Social Care