Mainstream media ignores Scottish health service patient safety success story

It should come as no surprise that the mainstream media failed to cover another Scottish health service success - its outstanding patient safety record. In testimony before Westminster's Health Committee last week, Dr. Pelle Gustafson, leading European expert on patient safety and CMO at Swedish Patient Insurer, was asked which country he would hold up as an example on patient safety. He responded, “I would say I am personally very impressed by Scotland.” The Tory MPs’ sharp intake of breath was audible.

Dr. Gustafson praised Scotland’s equal provision of health services to all. “In Scotland you have a long tradition of working, you have a development in the right direction and you also have a system which is fairly equal all over the place. You have improvement activities going on. So I am very impressed by Scotland”. He concluded, “We in the Nordic countries have a lot to learn from Scotland." 

Scotland’s Patient Safety Programme, introduced in 2007, has reduced hospital and post- surgical deaths and complications such as pressure sores, sepsis, and wound infections.

Jeremy Hunt confessed that while Health minister he unsuccessfully tried to lure Scotland’s head of Patient Safety to England. Tellingly, Westminster has failed to introduce a similar patient safety programme.

Scotland’s health service outperforms England’s not only because the Scottish Government provides more funding per head but also because it remains under the control of 14 health boards, each responsible for the delivery of health care and services to the local population.

The Scottish Health Service is threatened by the relentless privatisation of NHS England, where funding, planning and provision of health services are disconnected from each other and from people in local areas. The UK health and care bill apes the US private insurance model where prescriptions, tests and treatments have to be paid for. Emergency services will no longer be provided for everybody in an area. For the first time since 1948, parliament will not determine to whom NHS services must be provided.

The bill will pass because so many MPs and peers have financial interests in the private health sector. Restoring Scotland’s independence is crucial for ensuring our nation’s future health and prosperity.

You can watch the testimony here:

By Marcus MacIntyre-Kemp