A series of issues currently affecting the health sector in Scotland are being prioritised for investigation by MSPs on the newly established Health and Sport Committee of the Scottish Parliament.
Over the course of the autumn the Committee will hold a series of evidence sessions looking at the following issues which have been identified as some of the most pressing and important in allowing our health care system to continue to deliver a world class service:
- GPs and GP hubs;
- Delayed discharges;
- Social and community care workforce;
- Tackling obesity;
- Health and social care integration budgets;
- Recruitment and retention;
- Mental health.
Today they have also issued a call for views and will spend the summer consulting organisations and individuals with an interest in these areas.
Convener of the Committee Neil Findlay MSP said:
“The areas the Committee will investigate represent some of the most significant challenges currently facing the health service in Scotland. But I am under no illusion there will be easy answers or quick fixes.
“This Committee intends to make a positive difference to the way health care is delivered in Scotland. We aim to do this by listening to the various views that exist, speaking to people about their experiences and providing a platform for debate.
“Whilst these will be a series of focused inquiries, this should allow our committee to get to grips with these areas of health care as a whole before we concentrate our attention on areas requiring further investigation.”
The committee will be looking to establish the following:
- GPs and GP hubs
The inquiry will provide an introduction to the Government’s approach to primary care reform. It will consider difficulties in recruitment and the extent to which the proposed hub approach will assist in reducing demand on GPs. It will also identify how pharmacists and others will fit into the new hubs and how their contribution will be measured.
- Delayed discharges
Delayed discharges affect a hospital patient who is clinically ready for discharge from inpatient hospital care but continues to occupy a hospital bed beyond the ready for medical discharge date The Committee will be considering what the causes of delayed discharge are, if investment has made a difference and barriers and solutions to delayed discharge.
- Social and community care workforce
The Committee will be asking if there is enough staff to fulfil the vision of a shift from hospital care to community care and how quality of care is ensured. It will also focus on pay and retention, including whether the living wage will be adequate to retain staff.
The prevalence of people overweight and obese in Scotland is high, and the underlying trend is increasing. The Committee is looking to increase understanding of the causes of obesity; financial cost; and how the targets associated with participation in physical activity and sport for adults are to be met.
- Health and social care integration budgets
Budgets for Integrated Joint Boards for 2016-17 are expected to total over £9 billion provided by Health Boards and local authorities. The committee will consider how this system is operating in practice and whether Integrated Joint Boards are delivering on the reconfiguration of services.
- Recruitment and retention
The Committee wants to gain an overview of recruitment and retention issues within the NHS workforce in Scotland including in rural and remote areas.
There are a large number of performance measures and frameworks used by the Scottish Government in relation to health. These are currently being reviewed by the Government and this session will allow the Committee to hear about progress and contribute to the review.
- Mental health
Research indicates that 10% of children and young people (5-16 years) have a clinically diagnosable mental health problem, disproportionately affecting persons from lower income households. The inquiry seeks to understand the barriers to accessing children’s mental health services and why significant variations in waiting times and accessing treatment continue to occur across Scotland. The inquiry will also look at the previous mental health strategy to identify both positive and negative impacts.
The Health and Sport Committee of the Scottish Parliament consists of 11 MSPs. They are: Convener - Neil Findlay; Deputy Convener – Clare Haughey; Alex Cole-Hamilton; Alison Johnstone; Colin Smyth; Donald Cameron; Ivan McKee; Maree Todd; Miles Briggs; Richard Lyle and Tom Arthur.
Of the 11 Members 8 are new MSPs and the breadth of this work is designed to give the Committee a grounding in a number of vital reforms and other areas of health care. The Committee’s role is to hold to account the Scottish Government and public services including the Health Service, Local Authorities and Integrated Joint Boards with a view to ensuring Scotland has the best possible health care within available resources. The Committee’s responsibility also includes all sport policy and work around this will feature throughout the Parliamentary session.
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