On 31 March I will be retiring from my role as the CEO of NHS Health Scotland when our organisation dissolves to make way for Scotland’s new public health body. I do so against the backdrop of the most significant public health challenge of our time, the outbreak of Covid-19.
On 1 April our Team at NHS Health Scotland will join with colleagues from Health Protection Scotland and Information Services Division, both currently part of NHS National Services Scotland, to form Public Health Scotland. This brings together all of the national public health functions into one organisation.
"No one person changes the world. We together change the world."
(Jody Williams, 1997 Nobel Peace Prize Winner)
Planning for Public Health Scotland has been a major endeavour for us all.
In doing so, NHS Health Scotland has focused on our strategic vision of A Fairer Healthier Scotland and on what the evidence tells us is required to reduce the unfair inequalities in health outcomes for people living in Scotland.
We recognised that to address this challenge it was not something a public health agency could achieve alone. That is why I have very much welcomed the refreshed focus on whole system working and, in particular, how we reconnect public health with its traditional local government origins.
"The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new."
One of the most important things for those of us who are working in the ‘legacy organisations’ is to retain what we consider to be the best of what we’ve achieved together and the values we’ve held important to us. I am confident that the opportunity we have to look afresh at public health in Scotland will build on what has gone before.
The challenges ahead do require new solutions and new approaches. Public Health Scotland, as a new organisation bringing together the significant innovation from within the various legacy bodies, will be able to design these solutions and create a new organisational approach for itself. We know there is a need to do things differently so that we can address the significant public health challenges of our time. I’ve always thought it a mistake to believe that these can be found by only looking back.
I am proud of what we have achieved for the public’s health over the last 17 years and it has been an absolute privilege to have been able to lead NHS Health Scotland since 2010. Now is the time to build on the best of the past as we transition to the new body. Under the leadership of CEO Angela Leitch, I am confident that Public Health Scotland will develop promisingly in the context of the ever-changing public health landscape. I also feel sure that so many colleagues and friends who have helped us be successful to date, will tomorrow become the public health leaders Scotland needs and deserves.
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