The Scottish Government has emphasised the importance of digital services within its plan for the recovery of the country’s NHS from the Covid-19 pandemic.
It has published a recovery plan along with a pledge for a £1 billion investment in the development of the health service over the next five years.
Among the plans for primary and community care are investments in e-prescribing and e-dispensing, and £3.4 million a year to scale up the use of the NHS Near Me video calling platform, the use of which increased from 1,200 consultations per month to 12,000 per week during the pandemic.
This will be accompanied by a public consultation and engagement on the development of an app to help people access information and services and self-manage any conditions.
The plan also points to work on an expanded Digital Mental Health Programme over the next year, including the scaling up of digital treatments and therapies. During the pandemic there has been a growth in the use of services such as self-guided computerised cognitive behavioural therapy.
“The increase in digital - planned for before the pandemic, and significantly accelerated as part of our response to the pandemic - means the time is now right to ensure that digital is always available as a choice for people accessing services and staff delivering them,” the document says.
“This will allow more people to manage their condition at home, to be able to carry out pre- and post-operative assessments remotely, and to continue to manage their recovery from home.”
Other major elements of the plan include £400 million for national treatment centres, a 25% increase in investment in primary care, £29 million to target diagnostic backlogs, and £8 million to support the mental health and wellbeing of employees.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (pictured) said: “This plan will drive the recovery of our NHS, not just to its pre-pandemic level but beyond.
“As we maintain our resilience against Covid-19 and other pressures, the Scottish Government is providing targeted investment to increase capacity, reform the system and ultimately get everyone the treatment they need as quickly as possible.
“Tackling the backlog of care is essential and will be a priority. But we want to go further than that and deliver an NHS that is innovative, sustainable and stronger than ever before.”
Image from Scottish Government, Open Government Licence v1.0