THE NHS is Scotland is to face a new set of inspections to look at issues such as staffing levels and quality of care, ministers have announced.
In addition to checks already carried out on infection control and the care of older people in hospitals, the new independent reviews will aim to drive up standards and improve outcomes for patients across health services.
It comes after concerns being raised about issues such as staff and bed numbers in recent years, including a review into higher death rates at NHS Lanarkshire which mentioned the impact of nurse and doctor shortages on services.
The reviews will be led by Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS), with inspections teams made up of health specialists and patients.
The teams will carry out inspections primarily focussed on the quality of care, but also looking at a range of issues including staff levels, patient and staff experience.
Health Secretary Alex Neil said Scotland was already a “world leader in providing a safe, effective and person-centred health service”.
“These new reviews will first and foremost focus on the quality of care. But they will add to our scrutiny regime by considering the whole system, including staff levels, and patient experience,” he added.
“The reviews will also play an important part in ensuring that our NHS continues to be open and honest to those it serves – Scottish patients.
“As well being truly open and transparent our NHS also needs to reflect on best practice and support staff to emulate success and spread good practice so that it becomes common practice everywhere.”
The reviews will look at health services across NHS boards, though will not initially include GP practices. The first inspection is expected to take place at the start of next year.
Dr Denise Coia, chair of Healthcare Improvement Scotland, said: “We welcome the announcement as part of our work in supporting improvements in the care patients receive in Scotland.
“We will work with a wide range of stakeholders in developing the methodology for these more comprehensive reviews.
“These reviews will offer a further opportunity to demonstrate the contribution that appropriate and balanced scrutiny can make to improving the quality of healthcare in Scotland.”