Our purpose in Healthcare Improvement Scotland is to help make care better for people across Scotland. This operational plan for 2019–2020 sets out our work over the coming year to support better quality health and social care services in Scotland.

Throughout the United Kingdom, health and social care services are undergoing significant change, while at the same time facing some very difficult challenges. This is also the picture across Scotland. A huge amount of effort is also going into redesigning frontline services, involving people in their care, delivering care closer to where people live, and to try and prevent illnesses and problems before they become more serious. However, more is needed if we are to achieve the ambition, set out by Scottish Government, of an effective integrated health and social care system across Scotland.

All this is taking place in the context of real financial pressures, and with the challenges of maintaining the required numbers of staff with the right skills and experience. It is essential that we take this context into account as we plan the work of Healthcare Improvement Scotland.

This plan describes the range of work we are carrying out during 2019–2020. It also illustrates how our work will support key national priorities and, ultimately, how we support the Scottish Government’s Health and Social Care Delivery Plan, based on its ambition to build a safer, healthier and fairer society. We also ensure our work contributes to achieving the 2020 Vision for health and social care, the Programme for Government published in September 2018, the implementation of the Health and Social Care Standards and the Quality Strategy. The strategic commitments we are using to shape our overall programme of work for 2019–2020 and beyond include a clear focus on the priorities of the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport.

We are supporting the integration of health and social care services; helping build stronger community-based care services. We are working to improve access to, and the quality of, mental health services in particular for children and young people. We are strengthening the effectiveness of the governance of quality of care across Scotland through various workstreams and continue to deliver on the statutory duties placed upon us.

In our strategy, Making Care Better, and our 2018–2019 operational plan we drew attention to our work on a framework – the quality management system – that health and social care systems can use to help deliver high quality services in an effective and sustainable way. The components of this quality management system are quality planning, quality control, and quality improvement – supported by a learning system. We are using this framework to help shape our own overall programme of work, and we will build upon this approach throughout 2019–2020.

This year, we have embarked upon a different approach for planning our work. We are strengthening collaborative working across our different teams and functions, and their involvement in the planning process. We are putting a greater emphasis on demonstrating the value and impact of our work, and developing a more consistent, organisation-wide approach to how we engage with others as we develop our plans.

Planning our work in this way will enable us to make some of the difficult decisions that are required about how we rebalance our own overall programme of work. This is with the ultimate aim of ensuring we are making the biggest difference in supporting both the delivery of Scottish Government policy, and improvements to health and social care services.

Thank you for taking the time to read our plan for 2019–2020. We are already working on our plan for 2020–2021, with the ambition of further increasing the impact of our work through a maturing approach to collaborative working across our organisation and using the quality management system to help our planning. To help us plan our work for 2020–2021, we would like to hear from you if you have suggestions for how we can best serve our purpose of making health and social care better for everyone in Scotland.


Carole Wilkinson


Robbie Pearson

Chief Executive