Event reflections: How can we transform health and social care?

I recently took part in a Holyrood event focused on the messages and recommendations in Audit Scotland’s Changing models of health and social care report. We partnered with Holyrood on the event, and I set the scene with a presentation on our recent health and social care work –including a screening of our new animation – to highlight some of the challenges facing these services, and what still needs to be done to get them to a place where they can cope with the demands of our growing, ageing population.

01_title-slideThe guest speakers at the event – from bodies such as NHS boards, health and social care partnerships and the ALLIANCE – gave some really useful insight into different approaches and new models of care being developed in local areas. We featured these examples as case studies alongside our report.

One speaker, Professor Lewis Ritchie, talked about transforming out-of-hours care and the importance of people. Representatives from ISD Scotland and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde: Public Health illustrated how good data can support and improve decision-making, to help transform services. The presentations were extremely varied and interesting, with engaging speakers who were clearly passionate about what they do.

It was a small event with around 30 delegates. I was initially concerned that we’d struggle to stimulate enough questions and discussion during the panel sessions, but I needn’t have worried. The venue’s cosy and informal nature seemed to make people more relaxed and open, and we actually ended up running out of time in each session as people had so much to say!

The big take home message for me was that while this is one of the most challenging times ever experienced by public bodies, there are a lot of dedicated staff determined to get it right and make the needed changes to how care is delivered. These ‘local champions’ are the ones that can identify what’s needed on the ground. They are the ones who come up with innovative ways of working, overcome many barriers and convince managers that the old way of doing things isn’t an option any more.

We’ve recommended that evaluation of new models needs to improve to inform the evidence base of what works. I was heartened to see at the event that this was something that presenters and their colleagues had been working hard to do.

08_line-up-of-our-reportsThere was also lot of admiration in the room for Audit Scotland, which was really encouraging.

We know that the challenges facing health and social care can be a sensitive subject, and we’re always acutely aware of how our work will be received, and the impact we can have on the public’s awareness of the issues we highlight. That’s why it was great to hear delegates say that they valued our clear, factual and independent reports, which stimulated useful debate and helped to influence change. They also commented that we weren’t afraid to tackle difficult subjects and tell it like it is.

This is brilliant feedback for us to build on, particularly as we have a number of future audits planned in different areas of health and social care, including a look at the NHS workforce. We’ll post updates on our online hub as these are developed in more detail. In the meantime, we’d welcome comments or feedback from anyone interested in this area of our work.

About the author

mm6a5513Jillian Matthew is an audit manager and joined Audit Scotland in 2003. She has worked on numerous audits with a health and social care focus, including Audit Scotland’s annual review of the NHS in Scotland, an overview of mental health services, and reviews of NHS waiting lists, cardiology and orthopaedic services.