Policy, Legislation and Guidance

NHS Boards are required to involve people in designing, developing and delivering the health care services they provide for them. The following  policy, legislation and guidance is relevant to participation:  

Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act

The Link opens in new windowCommunity Empowerment (Scotland) Act gained Royal Assent in July 2015. It empowers community bodies through the ownership of land and buildings, and by strengthening their voices in the decisions that matter to them. It also improves outcomes for communities by improving the process of community planning, ensuring that local service providers work together even more closely with communities to meet the needs of the people who use them. 

There are a number of pieces of work ongoing which underpin the vision of a mutual NHS and are helping to improve patient focus and public involvement in Scotland. This includes promoting the Participation Standard, which is used to collect systematic, comparable information on good practice that can be used to inform future development.

Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Act

The Link opens in new windowPublic Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Act gained Royal Assent in April 2014. It put in place:

  • Nationally agreed outcomes, which apply across health and social care, and for which NHS Boards and Local Authorities are held jointly accountable
  • A requirement on NHS Boards and Local Authorities to integrate health and social care budgets
  • A requirement on Partnerships to strengthen the role of clinicians and care professionals, along with the third and independent sectors, in the planning and delivery of services.

The Social Care (Self-directed Support) (Scotland) Act

The Link opens in new windowSocial Care (Self-directed Support) (Scotland) Act became law in January 2013. It aims to create a fairer, person-centred social care and support system, with an increased focus on user participation.

Patient Rights (Scotland) Act

The Link opens in new windowPatient Rights (Scotland) Act 2011 gained Royal Assent in March 2011 and aims to improve patients' experiences of using health services and to support people to become more involved in their health and healthcare. The provisions of the Act include:

NHSScotland Healthcare Quality Strategy

Launched in May 2010, the Link opens in new windowNHSScotland Quality Strategy states that the health service in Scotland will put people at the heart of everything it does. It commits to ensuring that the way in which people receive healthcare is as important as how quickly they receive it. Through the implementation of the strategy, people will be encouraged to be partners in their own care and can expect to experience improvements reflecting the things they have said they want and need from their health services:

  • Those working in the health service will listen to peoples' views, gather information about their perceptions and personal experience of care and use that information to further improve care.
  • Building on the values of the people working in and with NHSScotland and their commitment to providing the best possible care and advice compassionately and reliably, by making the right thing easier to do for every person, every time.

Informing, Engaging and Consulting

To fulfil their responsibilities for public involvement, NHS Boards should routinely communicate with and involve the communities they serve. In February 2010 the Scottish Government published updated guidance on Link opens in new windowInforming, engaging and consulting people in developing health and community care services, which is supplemented by guidance produced by the Scottish Health Council. Boards should also follow the principles and practice endorsed in the Link opens in new windowNational Standards for Community Engagement.

Better Health, Better Care

The Scottish Government's Link opens in new windowBetter Health, Better Care: Action Plan (2007) set out a vision for the NHS based on a theme of mutuality that sees the Scottish people and the staff of the NHS as partners, or co-owners in the NHS, giving people a greater say in the services they use.

NHS Reform (Scotland) Act

To reflect the importance of their Patient Focus and Public Involvement agenda, duties of public involvement and equal opportunities were placed on NHS Boards in the Link opens in new windowNHS Reform (Scotland) Act 2004.