Posted by: ayrshirehealth | January 30, 2013

Putting patients first by @alexneilsnp

Putting patients first

ScottishGovtAlexNeil_AyrshireI have been the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing since September 2012. In the four months since then I have spent as much time as possible with patients, families and staff.

I have been on a number of visits to see for myself what it is like working and receiving care in our NHS.

The NHS is very precious to the people of Scotland and particularly precious to me. Both myself and my family have benefited from its care and I will do all I can to ensure it continues to improve.

Helicopters to toothbrushes

NHS Scotland logoThe NHS is a complex organisation. It delivers care and support to millions of people each year and it does this with compassion and care. Our services range from helicopter evacuations to toothbrushing advice in nursery schools. Waiting times are at an all time low and healthcare acquired infections are at their lowest since records began.

Every day I feel the responsibility of this leadership and I strive to do my best for the people of Scotland and for the staff of the NHS. Last week is a good example of how I am trying to lead the improvement.

AlexNeil_in_HolyroodThere were two main announcements last week which at first sight may seem very different. On Monday  I announced a £21 million fund for orphan drugs, medicines for illnesses which affect fewer than one in 2,000 people.

On Wednesday I visited a newly-refurbished ward in Ninewells Hospital in Dundee to announce a move in NHS Tayside to more flexible and open visiting.  Five wards in Ninewells are testing changing visiting from two hours a day to a more open regime of 11am – 8pm allowing patients and families more flexibility.  Other Boards are also looking at this area and the general direction of travel across Scotland is to more flexible and open visiting.

One of these changes will affect only small numbers of people each year. Those with very rare diseases who would otherwise struggle to receive potentially life changing medication. The other will affect many across the country and assist with the health and wellbeing of patients who are unfortunate enough to require a hospital stay. What these two announcements have in common is they are person-centred. They are based on the needs of the patients and families we serve.

Person centred – Safe and effective

Quality strategyThis is my number one priority amongst a host of other pressures on our time and resource – to make the NHS serve the people of Scotland. To be the envy of the world in compassion and care as well as technical delivery of treatment and patient safety.

Person centred care is in my view the most important of our three Quality Ambitions laid out in our Quality Strategy. The other two are essential – a safe and effective NHS but without patients and families at the centre of everything we deliver there is no point being safe and effective.

Impressed with staff

I have been very impressed with the staff I have met in my first few months in this role and I will continue to strive to help make the NHS as user-friendly as I can in the months and years to come.  Look out for more user-friendly policies in the next few months.


@alexneilsnp – is the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing at the Scottish Government and MSP for Airdrie and Shotts.

Next week:

@colin_r_martin writes for the final time on ayrshirehealth before he leaves Scotland for pastures new in London.


  1. […] Putting patients first by Alex Neil on the Ayrshire Health blog. […]

  2. […] The Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing at the Scottish Government, Alex Neil, blogging on Ayrshirehealth shared his own personal view of why the NHS in Scotland is valued at an individual and population level – he shared his own commitment to leading and delivering patient centred improvements across services in “putting patients first”. […]

  3. […] for Health and Wellbeing at the Scottish Government. His post on the Ayrshire Health blog – Putting patients first – emphasised the need for compassion as well as […]

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