What is National Services Scotland?
NHS National Services Scotland (NSS) provides vital, varied services to support Scotland’s healthcare, as well as the wider public sector.
The NHS in Scotland is made up of 14 regional health boards, seven special health boards and one public health body. The regional health boards are responsible for delivering health and care to their local populations. The seven special health boards have specific functions, such as the Scottish Ambulance Service or the NHS National Waiting Times Centre. NHS National Services Scotland is one of these special boards.
What does National Services Scotland do?
NSS provides multiple essential services for the NHS on a ‘Once for Scotland’ basis. So, for example, instead of each health board sourcing its own medical supplies, NSS provides this service for all of them. It’s more efficient and cost effective to order larger volumes, and provides savings for NHSScotland.
National Procurement is one of the biggest success stories of National Services Scotland’s COVID-19 response: we’ve sourced and supplied more than one billion PPE items to support frontline NHS and social care colleagues during the pandemic.
Some other shared services NSS provides include:
- Digital support and online security, including introducing Microsoft Teams and constructing data dashboards to capture COVID-19 infection levels
- Programme management, such as supporting Scotland’s COVID-19 testing programme, or COVID-19 vaccine deployment
- Legal advice that protects our NHS in Scotland
- Managing NHS buildings
- Screening services, such as for cancer
- Preventing fraud in the NHS
- Payment services for GPs, dentists, pharmacists and opticians
- Blood, organ and cell donation
Why National Services Scotland is at the heart of Scotland’s NHS
NSS may seem like a collection of unrelated services, but it’s important to remember the ‘Once for Scotland’ approach. What our services have in common is the advantage the NHS gains by pooling resources.
It’s like honey bees building a hive. Groups of bees have different roles in the successful function of the hive, such as building it, finding honey, caring for the queen etc. NSS is the same. Our worker “bees” have different responsibilities, but each individual effort contributes to the success of NHSScotland.
But that’s where the similarity ends: although we operate as a hive, our customers are at the heart of what we do. (We also don’t wear fuzzy coats.) We want to create a positive impact for each person who requires healthcare and social support in Scotland. That’s why we work to increase our impact and benefit as many people as possible, by improving how we do things.
In fact, driving innovation is central to the time and cost savings NSS offers NHSScotland. In 2020, we worked with NHS Highland, Highland and Islands Enterprise, Scottish Government and the Digital Health & Care Institute to design and deliver SCOTCAP, a pill that contains two tiny cameras. Patients swallow the pill as an alternative to invasive colonoscopy procedures and it helps to detect bowel cancer. The technology will benefit 70,000 colonoscopy patients in Scotland each year.
Beyond the NHS
From our own way of working we know that collaboration brings better results than operating in isolation. We believe we can achieve more when we recognise that good health is connected to other things that happen in our lives.
We do this by:
- Enabling health and care transformation with new and innovative shared services
- Underpinning the work of NHSScotland by providing excellent services
- Assisting other organisations involved in health and care
That’s why part of the NSS strategy involves a strand of work called Assist. The Assist programme creates partnerships with other public, third and independent sector organisations, including local authorities; the emergency services; charitable organisations; and health and social care partnerships. Through these connections we can make sure our national services are aligned with what the people of Scotland need at a regional and local level.
For example, NSS National Services Division colleagues supported the creation and launch of the Scottish Veterans Care Network (SVCN) last year. A collaborative National Strategic Network, the SVCN operates under a ‘Once for Scotland’ approach to deliver integrated, person-centred care.
The objectives of the SVCN were agreed with stakeholders including Scottish Government, NHS Boards and Integrated Joint Boards to bring together specialist care providers for veterans, professionals, veterans themselves, and voluntary groups.
Improving standards wherever possible and providing consistent veteran care fulfils the pledge of the Armed Forces Covenant and empowers Scotland’s 220,000-strong veterans’ community. It also enables positive wellbeing for veterans, their families and their wider communities.
Work with us
The NHS depends on NSS to deliver for Scotland – for patients, families and communities. You can find out more about NSS on our website or via Twitter. For more information on Assist or how your organisation can work with NSS, please email Tom McHugh.
Image courtesy of www.vecteezy.com