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Radical change for NHS in Scotland

Published on 03/11/05 at 11:41am

Healthcare services across Scotland are to focus on preventative care as part of wide-ranging changes to NHS priorities in the region.

The Kerr Report, a 10-year blueprint for the health service in Scotland, makes a number of recommendations to achieve this, including increasing the number of chronic disease management programmes.

Health minister Andy Kerr said he wanted to see healthcare professionals getting out into communities and identifying those at risk of heart attack, cancer, diabetes or high cholesterol.

"For our vulnerable citizens or those with long-term chronic conditions, I want to see them get the intensive case management they need to manage their condition year on year," he said.

Key priorities in the plan include reducing health inequalities and increasing the support available for people with long-term conditions by offering integrated specialist care and anticipating their needs.

One such project is Have a Heart Paisley, launched in 2000 and now in its second phase. The initiative calculates people's risk of having a heart attack and offers coaching to help them change their lifestyle.

Kerr described the changes as a "fundamental shift in the way we want our NHS to work" that would work to improve the health of people with chronic conditions and keep them out of hospital.

Scottish doctors warned the Scottish Executive's most pressing task was to deal with a shortage of healthcare professionals, but welcomed the plan's long-term vision.

Dr Peter Terry, chairman of the BMA in Scotland, said: "We share the view that the priority should be to ensure that patients are seen by the most appropriate health professional in the most appropriate environment, be that hospital or community based."

Scotland has long had one of the worst health records in Europe and a report by the chief medical officer earlier this year said it would at least take a generation before the region's health record could be put right.

The Scottish Executive's priorities for the NHS over the next decade will be set out in more detail in Delivering for Health, available online at

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