In April 2020, Public Health Scotland (PHS), will provide leadership in the protection and improvement of the public’s health in Scotland. NHS Health Scotland and Public Health and Intelligence (from within NHS National Services Scotland) are being brought together to form this new body. By this time, NHS Health Scotland, with our partners in the public, private and third sectors, will have delivered and learned a lot over the 17 years we’ve been in existence, about how to make a difference to the public’s health. Today, as we move towards the new public health landscape, we want to share that learning with the public health community and carry it forward into Public Health Scotland.

‘Building our Future’ is an account of our strategic development as an organisation, and a description of our work in three key areas – alcohol, place and early years, which are of course three of Scotland’s new public health priorities. It is not an exhaustive account of NHS Health Scotland’s work and it does not include our achievements in, for example, smoke-free public places, mental health or good work. But by focusing on a small number of examples, it demonstrates what it takes to build the evidence, design the policies and practice and develop the relationships needed for a national public health agency to contribute to a fairer, healthier Scotland.

David Crichton, Chair of NHS Health Scotland said:

“This is an exciting time for public health in Scotland. NHS Health Scotland’s contribution to public health has been, and still is, wide-ranging and far-reaching. In our 17 years, we have learned much about the state of the nation’s health, as well as how best to intervene and address it.

“We’ve learned of the need to undo the fundamental causes of health inequalities if we are to make the biggest difference to the public’s health. We’ve learned that an outcomes focus helps to deliver the broad and wide-ranging policies and initiatives that are most likely to be effective in reducing health inequalities – and that collaboration is absolutely key to this. We’ve learned that the role of robust evidence supported by an independent voice is crucial in effecting change. And, we’ve learned that a human rights based approach helps us to drive, measure, and test what we do. All of this is learning that we will take with us into Public Health Scotland, which has the potential to make a real difference to the health of the people of Scotland.

“Yes, there are significant public health challenges in Scotland, but Public Health Scotland is built on a strong foundation of collaboration, learning and good will in abundance. It will play a crucial leadership role in addressing the public health challenges and, importantly, in supporting the public health system to work together to create a fairer, healthier Scotland.

“I will look back on this current era in public health, not only with pride but also with a strong sense of optimism for the future.”

Joe FitzPatrick, Public Health Minister said:

“I would like to thank the staff of NHS Health Scotland for their hard work and dedication in improving the health of the nation over the past 17 years.

“Their legacy will help serve the organisation’s transition to Public Health Scotland in April next year.”

For more information on public health Scotland, and Scotland’s public health landscape, visit Our Context – public health in Scotland web pages.