Sturgeon: Ready For Tough Health Service Choices

Nicola Sturgeon is set to pledge to take the "tough decisions'' to ensure health and care services in Scotland are fit for the future.

The First Minister is to make a major speech setting out the challenges the sector is facing at what she describes as being a "pivotal moment'' for healthcare provision all over the world.

She will also use the speech at Edinburgh's Queen Margaret University to outline plans for a more sustainable workforce for the health service, with increases in student numbers at medical schools, greater access to medical education and a focus on maximising the contribution nurses can make.

Advances in technology combined with an ageing population are just some of the trends that ``present challenges and opportunities that the founders of the NHS could scarcely have imagined,'' she will say.

How well the NHS responds to these will depend on decisions taken now on how the NHS is organised and the relationship between social, community, primary and secondary care, she will add.

Ms Sturgeon will say: "As First Minister, I am determined that we take the decisions - including the tough decisions - that will ensure that our health and care services are fit for the future.

"For all the complexity involved in delivering modern health and care services, the basic argument I'm going to make is actually a very simple one. It's this - care should always be delivered as locally as possible. In fact, when possible, it should be delivered at home.

"That's not a new idea but it is even more important now than it has been in previous decades. As more people live for longer, we need to support them to live as independently and healthily as possible.

"So, I want to talk about some of the fundamental changes and reforms that we're making to health and care services which will help us to achieve that aim.''

The SNP leader will argue reforms currently being implemented in health and care services "will benefit everyone in Scotland'', adding: "They will build on the success of our current healthcare system and ensure that services are delivered as locally as possible and in a way which meets people's needs - as individuals.

"If we succeed, we will reduce inequality and we will improve health and wellbeing, and the experience of healthcare, for everyone.''

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