Looking through a public health lens – what did we see?

Audit Scotland has an interest in improving the health of the population – indeed, don’t we all?

How do we know what’s value for money, what works and what’s important to people who use services?  We have a commitment to try and find new ways of measuring the things that matter to people and understanding the outcomes than can be achieved by effective public services.

Public health directors and specialists have a vital interest in accountability and governance in these services – improving and protecting health, ensuring the quality of health and social care services, tackling inequalities and delivering a fair approach to support people to achieve better health.

Public health professionals want to help set the right measures, and we want to use these measures to tell a story about quality of public services and what those services mean to people.

Our common ground is that we both want to assure the public that resources are used in proportion to needs, so that outcomes are being achieved.

That’s why a bunch of accountants, auditors and public health specialists, gathered in Audit Scotland’s Edinburgh office last week to figure out new approaches, make new relationships and to draw out our joint challenges and opportunities. We co-chaired the event with NHS Health Scotland and heard from Neil Hamlet, one of the authors of a 2015 report by the Scottish Public Health Network. We were also joined throughout the day by a range of other key colleagues from the third sector, community planning and housing. This input gave us other dimensions to consider, and a richer discussion as we chewed over some real housing and homelessness-related case studies.

What did we find?

  • That we are pushing at an open door – we agree that it’s all about outcomes and good quality public services for people, at the right time and using resources well
  • We have a pool of expertise that we can use better – we will keep in touch and have already found ways of interacting more effectively together
  • There is considerable power from working together
  • The role of the third sector is vital in delivering outcomes
  • Speaking to people about how they feel is vitally important in evidencing what’s working
  • We like to tweet – over 30 tweets from participants and lots of endorsements that the session was a good use of all of our time.

We also benefitted from the talents of a graphic recorder through the day – Catherine McKay from Listen Think Draw illustrated all of the discussion and you can see some of the images here or watch this video to see what was covered.

About the author

Lorraine Gillies image
Lorraine Gillies is on a 23 month secondment to Audit Scotland from West Lothian Council. A former community planner, she has a keen interest in the field of citizen engagement. She is chair of the housing and disability charity Housing Options Scotland.

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