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Reform programme overview

Public health reform is a partnership between Scottish Government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA). However, the vision for Scotland's health cannot be achieved by any one organisation working alone. It will take the combined efforts of partners from across the public, private and third sectors and, importantly, from within local communities.

Public health reform aims to challenge our current ways of working, put more decisions directly in the hands of citizens and provide support to local communities to develop their own approaches and solutions to local population health challenges.

To deliver the vision for public health reform, Scottish Government and COSLA will

  • agree public health priorities for Scotland that are important public health concerns and that we can do something about
  • establish a new national public health body for Scotland bringing together expertise from NHS Health Scotland, Health Protection Scotland and Information Services Division
  • support different ways of working to develop a whole system approach to improve health and reduce health inequalities.

Our briefing provides more details on these actions.

Public health priorities

Shared public health priorities for Scotland have been developed with national and local stakeholders and provide a focus for delivering closer collaboration and a joined up approach to improving the public's health. Scotland's public health priorities are intended to be shared priorities and an important catalyst for working together, nationally and locally.

Published in June 2018, they provide an increased focus on prevention and early intervention on those public health issues that are likely to have the most significant impact on improving the public's health.

Public Health Scotland

Creating a culture of health in Scotland will require effective leadership nationally and locally. To support this, the reform programme will establish a new public health body - Public Health Scotland, bringing together Public Health Intelligence, Health Protection and Health Improvement expertise and knowledge in a single body.

The new body will provide a clear vision and strong voice for the public's health in Scotland by 2019. It will be accountable to Scottish Government and COSLA and will support, enable and provide challenge to the whole system of partners in the public, private and third sector.

Whole system approach

To create a culture for health in Scotland will require different ways of working across the public, private and third sector to tackle the wider social and economic issues that affect health and to deliver services in different ways that support communities and individuals manage their own health and sustain healthy behaviours.

Reform will focus on working with existing partnership arrangements to strengthen collaborative working for health improvement, building capacity and support across Scotland to put the public’s health at the heart of decision making.


To deliver our vision and ambitions for reform, the programme and delivery structure draws on experience and expertise from national and local government, NHS Scotland and partners in the third sector through an oversight and a programme board.