To improve the public’s health, we need to work together to shift our focus towards preventing ill health and working more effectively in partnership. This will require a different way of working, that supports everybody to work together more effectively towards a shared vision for the public’s health. This whole system approach will underpin public health reform.

Whole system working

Our aspirations for reform is for organisations to be working effectively together to improve the public’s health and reduce health inequalities. Whether working in housing, education, employment or health and social care services, how we plan and deliver services together will have an impact on the health of individuals and communities.

The reform programme aims to influence how we work across a number of areas as part of a whole system approach to improve the public’s health, with an increasing focus on preventing ill health and early intervention. Our approach to delivering the reform programme reflect this whole system approach.

Creating a culture for health

Delivering our ambitions for whole system working will involve creating a genuine culture for health in Scotland, where public services and citizens value health as a public good that is developed and enjoyed by all in society.

This means working in different ways to create the economic, social and physical environment that improves and protects health. Creating this environment will support and sustain healthier behaviours and help individuals to take ownership of their own health.

Public health reform will build on the recommendations of the Christie commission on the future delivery of public services (external website) which identified the need to work much more closely in partnership, to join up services and to prioritise spending on activities which prevent negative health outcomes happening.

Creating a culture for health in Scotland should enable us to

  • plan and deliver services that centre on prevention and integration
  • ensure decision making rests as close to communities as possible
  • work with communities to deliver improved health outcomes and empower citizens
  • deliver local services that work together even more closely with communities to meet the needs of people who use them.

Achieving this culture for health will only be possible by building a compelling vision, owned and delivered by partners to change how we plan and deliver services that contribute to improving the public’s health.

To deliver changes in the public's health, we will also look at how we

  • work with communities
  • work together as partners
  • use data and evidence.

Working with communities

Public bodies will be better integrated and committed to putting community engagement and the lived experience of people in communities at the heart of all decision making processes.

Evidence and data

The way we use evidence and data will underpin reform. The reform will be evidence and data led. Using current and emerging data and intelligence in different ways will help us to

  • focus services on preventing ill health and early intervention
  • plan and deliver services to meet the needs of the people who use them
  • engage citizens to make decisions about their own health and manage their own conditions
  • empower communities to make decisions about what’s important to improve health in their local area.

Working together

How we work in together across organisations and communities as partners or in formal partnerships will change with different ways of working within and across

  • national and local government
  • partnerships
  • public health workforce
  • the third sector
  • communities.

Public health reform is not about any one organisation. If we are to improve the public’s health we need to work together to shift our emphasis towards preventing illness and working more effectively together.