Cabinet Secretary – Common purpose is key to us emerging from COVID-19 pandemic stronger

Section: The ALLIANCEType: News Item Date Published: 7th September 2020

Jeane Freeman MSP has answered ALLIANCE members’ questions on health and social care during and beyond COVID-19.

A forthcoming independent review of adult social care will lead to “important decisions” having to be made by politicians and members of the public alike, according to Scotland’s Health Secretary.

In a wide ranging interview for the ALLIANCE annual conference, Jeane Freeman MSP indicated that it would be a “relatively quick” rather than long term exercise, and would seek to examine key issues such as how adult social care is delivered, by whom, how it is funded and how it is regulated.

In the discussion with journalist Pennie Taylor, recorded ahead of the Programme for Government announcement, Ms Freeman expressed a desire for a greater level of equality between the way that different types of services are perceived. She described primary, community and social care services as “the bedrock” of supporting the health and wellbeing of Scotland’s population, and reflected that “we need to find ways of articulating that better.”

Not surprisingly, the answers to ALLIANCE members’ questions addressed a wide range of issues associated with COVID-19, including the challenge of remobilising services disrupted as a result of the pandemic. The Cabinet Secretary outlined plans for a phased approach to restarting services that will be prioritised on a clinical basis, but took the opportunity to stress that unfortunately “we will not see the NHS start in October the way we left it last December – that is not possible because we are still fighting this virus.”

Retaining successful ways of working that have emerged as a response to the pandemic will be crucial to reshaping health and care, according to the Cabinet Secretary. She praised the work that had been undertaken to roll out the ‘NHS Near Me’ video consultation tool across the country, which has received a “hugely positive” response.

That said, viewers were offered the reassurance that there will still be a role for in person face to face consultations where appropriate, noting the importance of healthcare professionals being able to pick up on the nuanced detail of things like body language, or facial expressions.

Looking beyond the pandemic, the Cabinet Secretary stressed that sectors continuing to work together collaboratively would be key to Scotland building back better. “What we saw in the early phase of the pandemic was a sense of common purpose, which really made a huge difference. I want us to try to hold on to that in some way.”

Watch – ALLIANCE Annual Conference interview with Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, Jeane Freeman MSP (this link will take you away from our website).

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