NHS Scotland, the Scottish National Health Service, is the country's publicly funded healthcare system. Health and social care policy and funding are the responsibility of the Health and Social Care Directorates of the Scottish Government. The current Cabinet Secretary for Health and Well-being is Alex Neil and the head of staff is the Director-General Health and Social Care and Chief Executive of NHSScotland, Derek Feeley.
NHS Scotland had an operating budget of £11.35 billion in 2010-11, funding the employment of approximately 140,000 staff, including more than 47,500 nurses, midwives and health visitors and over 3,800 consultants. In addition, there are also more than 12,000 doctors, family practitioners and allied health professionals, including dentists, opticians and community pharmacists, who operate as independent contractors providing a range of services within the NHS in return for fees and allowances.
Health and social care are devolved issues in the United Kingdom and the 3 separate public healthcare bodies of Scotland, England and Wales are each commonly referred to as "National Health Service". However, these 3 separate public healthcare agencies were all administratively separate even prior to political devolution in 1999. This separation of powers and financing tends to be hidden from the general public due to the co-ordination and co-operation where cross-border emergency care is involved, and due to London-based media tending to conflate the 3 services.
Origins and history 
The service was founded by the National Health Service (Scotland) Act 1947 (since repealed by the National Health Service (Scotland) Act 1978). This Act provided a uniform national structure for services which had previously been provided by a combination of the Highlands and Islands Medical Service, local government, charities and private organisations which in general was only free for emergency use. The new system was funded from central taxation and did not generally involve a charge at the time of use for services concerned with existing medical conditions or vaccinations carried out as a matter of general public health requirements; prescription charges were a later introduction in 1951.
Before 1948 
Prior to the creation of Scotland's NHS in 1948, the state was involved with the provision of healthcare, though it was not universal. Half of Scotland’s landmass was already covered by the Highlands and Islands Medical Service, a state-funded health system run directly from Edinburgh, which had been set up 35 years earlier. In addition, there had been a substantial state-funded hospital building programme during the war years. Scotland also had its own distinctive medical tradition, centred on its medical schools rather than private practice, and a detailed plan for the future of health provision based on the Cathcart report.
Health Boards 
Current provision of healthcare is the responsibility of 14 geographically-based local NHS Boards and a number of National Special Health Boards. In April 2004 the NHS became an integrated service under the management of NHS Boards. Local authority nominees were added to Board membership to improve co-ordination of health and social care. Trusts were abolished and hospitals are now managed by the acute division of the NHS Board. Contracted services such as GPs and pharmacies are contracted through the NHS Board, but work in Community Health Partnerships based largely on local authority boundaries and serving up to 100,000 people and including local authority membership of their Boards. Some now also provide social care now called Community Health & Care Partnerships
Elections to Health Boards 
|NHS Scotland Health Boards|
Former Health Boards 
NHS Argyll and Clyde now no longer operates. Its responsibilities were shared between NHS Highland and NHS Greater Glasgow on 1 April 2006, and the latter was renamed NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. The part of the NHS Argyll and Clyde area which transferred to NHS Highland corresponds to the Argyll and Bute council area.
Special Health Boards 
Local Health Boards are supported by a number of non-geographical Special Health Boards providing national services(some of which have further publicised subdivisions), including:-
- NHS Health Scotland (Public health and health education)
- Healthcare Improvement Scotland
- Scottish Ambulance Service (The single public emergency ambulance service in Scotland)
- The Golden Jubilee National Hospital is a special NHS Board in Scotland with the purpose of reducing waiting times using a single modern hospital located at Clydebank. It was previously a private sector hospital built at a cost of £180 million, but was bought in 2002 by the Scottish Executive for £37.5 million after it failed to produce a profit despite being established with the help of a subsidy provided by a previous government.
- The State Hospitals Board for Scotland is responsible for the State Hospital for Scotland and Northern Ireland at Carstairs, which provides high security services for mentally disordered offenders and others who pose a high risk to themselves or others.
- NHS24 runs a 24 hour telephone helpline serving Scotland.
- NHS Education for Scotland (training and e-library)
- NHS National Services Scotland It is the common name for the Common Services Agency (CSA) providing services for NHS Scotland boards.
Other divisions 
Other subdivisions of the Scottish NHS include:-
Central Register 
The Central Register keeps records of patients resident in Scotland who have been registered with any of the health systems of the United Kingdom. It is maintained by the Registrar General. Its purposes include keeping GPs' patient lists up to date, the control of new NHS numbers issued in Scotland and assisting with medical research.
Patient identification 
Scottish patients are identified using a ten-digit number known as the CHI Number. These are used to uniquely identify individuals, avoiding problems such as where health records of people with similar birth dates and names may be confused, or where ambiguously spelled or abbreviated names may lead to one patient having several different health records. In addition, CHI numbers are quoted in all clinical correspondence to ensure that there is no uncertainty over the patient in question. A similar system of NHS reference numbers has since been instituted by NHS England and Wales.
Overseeing and representative bodies 
The Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland is an independent statutory body which protects people with a psychological disorder who are not able to look after their own interests. It is funded through the Scottish Executive Health Department, and follows the same financial framework as the NHS in Scotland.
The Scottish Health Council took over from local Health Councils on 31 March 2005.
Quality of healthcare 
There are various regulatory bodies in Scotland, as is the case throughout the UK, both government-based (e.g. Scottish Government Health Directorates, Nursing and Midwifery Council) and non-governmental-based (e.g. General Medical Council, Royal Colleges).
Recent developments 
The SNP government, elected in May 2007, has made clear that it opposes the use of partnerships between the NHS and the private sector. Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon voiced opposition to what she termed the "creeping privatisation" of the NHS, and called an end to the use of public money to help the private sector "compete" with the NHS.
See also 
- "Strategic Board of the Scottish Government". Scottish Government. Retrieved 2011-06-06.
- About the NHS in Scotland NHS Scotland
- What made Scotland different? 60yearsofnhsscotland.co.uk. Retrieved 25 October 2008.
- Health Board elections outlined BBC News, January 2008
- "NHS Health Scotland". Healthscotland.com. Retrieved 2010-07-11.
- "NHS Quality Improvement Scotland". Nhshealthquality.org. Retrieved 2010-07-11.
- "Scottish Ambulance Service". Scottishambulance.com. Retrieved 2010-07-11.
- "Golden Jubilee National Hospital". Gjnh.scot.nhs.uk. Retrieved 2010-07-11.
- "(Scottish Parliament Official Report 20 June 2002)". Scottish.parliament.uk. 2010-06-01. Retrieved 2010-07-11.
- "State Hospitals Board for Scotland". Show.scot.nhs.uk. Retrieved 2010-07-11.
- "NHS 24". NHS 24. Retrieved 2010-07-11.
- "NHS Education for Scotland". Nes.scot.nhs.uk. 2010-05-16. Retrieved 2010-07-11.
- "NHS National Services Scotland". Nhsnss.org. Retrieved 2010-07-11.
- "National Committee Services: CHI Advisory Group: About Us". Scottish Health Service Centre. NHS National Services Scotland. 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-30.
- "Scottish Health Council". Scottish Health Council. Retrieved 2010-07-11.
- Plans to end private cash for NHS BBC News June 21, 2007
- "NHS car parking charges abolished". BBC News. 2008-09-02. Retrieved 2009-02-07.
- Official website
- 60 years of the NHS Scotland website
- How to use the health service in Scotland multi lingual website giving help on using the NHS in Scotland.
- Map of all Uk Hospitals also showing accommodation for patients and visitors