Jeane Freeman MSP: if it works, do it across Scotland

Health secretary’s patience for not sharing good practice running out

Monday 20th May 2019

Health service leaders are being urged to adopt things that are working in other parts of Scotland – or be prepared to explain why not.

Speaking to the third health and social integration event, organised by the Health and Social Care ALLIANCE Scotland, Jeane Freeman MSP told delegates one of the phrases that she dislikes most is ‘sharing good practice’:

“I dislike it because it never happens. I dislike it because we say it all the time, but we don’t do it.”

One of the recommendations of the leadership group of government, health, council, care and third sector leaders, which reported earlier this year, was for health and social care partnerships to develop better processes to identify and implement good practice.

Ms Freeman says it is time to up the pace of development and delivery of good practice:

“If it works and the evidence is there to prove that it works, then I see no reason why we cannot extend that across all our services in Scotland. If people don’t want to do it then, in my opinion, they need to provide comparable evidence for the alternative that they want to deliver instead. And if that is there, that is fine.

“It doesn’t have to be the same across all of the country but what we can’t have is good practice delivered in one area but not taken on in another because it wasnae invented there.”

Asked by one of the delegates at the conference in Glasgow who runs the NHS in Scotland, Ms Freeman said that, while she doesn’t run the health service, she is responsible for it.

“I am crystal clear and I hope the [NHS] boards are crystal clear that, in terms of the direction of travel and the opportunity to deliver what government sets out as the right thing to do – listening to clinicians and patients – then the boards are the delivery arm of our health service in Scotland.

“And the Scottish government, and me as cabinet secretary, we are the ones who are accountable for whether that works or doesn’t work. That’s exactly how it should be. It is a national service that should have democratic accountability.”