NHS changes are about more than saving money

THERE is no doubt that our health service needs to change as it simply cannot continue to deliver the same level of service to more and more patients. Indeed, only last week in its report on health and social care for older people, Audit Scotland warned that “current service models are unsustainable”. So I was surprised that last week’s front page story (News, 2 February) – and accompanying piece by Margaret Watt of the Patients’ Association – suggested that Scotland’s NHS should continue to provide outpatient services in the same way it has always done and just somehow keep stretching services more thinly to meet increasing demand.

Along with others, we have been working for some time with the Scottish Government to find new ways to deliver services, otherwise increasing demand will not be met and patient care will suffer. Enabling people to visit the hospital less and potentially manage their own conditions more 
effectively is surely to be 
welcomed – who wants to go on regular trips to hospital if they can manage their condition or recover from an illness at home? Giving appropriately skilled clinicians the tools 
and resources to enable this is not just about saving money – it’s about improving care too.

The Audit Scotland report last week warned that progress has been slow in reshaping care for older people and more needs to be done to target resources on preventing or delaying ill health and on supporting people to stay at home. Nurses are key to making this happen and are fully committed to meeting these challenges.

Theresa Fyffe, 
RCN Scotland director