Healthcare Improvement Scotland

Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) is the national healthcare improvement organisation for Scotland. It is a public body which is part of the Scottish National Health Service, created in April 2011.


NHS Quality Improvement Scotland (NHS QIS) was established on 1 January 2003 as a special health board with a remit to improve the quality of healthcare in Scotland.[1] HIS was established by the Public Services Reform (Scotland) Act 2010, taking over the work of QIS and the regulatory functions, in regard to independent healthcare provision, previously conducted by the Care Commission, now renamed the Care Inspectorate.

The function of this body is to implement the healthcare priorities of the Scottish Government, in particular the Healthcare Quality Strategy of NHS Scotland.


Healthcare Improvement Scotland incorporates several organisations:

Healthcare Environment Inspectorate

The Healthcare Environment Inspectorate (HEI) carries out safety and cleanliness inspections of healthcare services across NHS Scotland. The assessments and inspections are to ensure that healthcare services are meeting the required standards of care, that good practice is identified and that areas for improvement are addressed.[2]

Scottish Health Council

The Scottish Health Council has a role to improve how the NHS in Scotland involves people in decisions about health services.[3]

Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network

The Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) was formed in 1993 and develops and disseminates evidence based clinical practice guidelines.[4] These guidelines contain recommendations for effective practice based on current evidence. SIGN aim to improve the quality of health care for patients in Scotland. Membership includes medical specialists, nursing, pharmacy, dentistry, professions allied to medicine, patients, managers, social services and researchers. In 2005 it became part of NHS Quality Improvement Scotland.

Guidelines are developed by multidisciplinary working groups with representation from across Scotland. Each Guideline has the preliminary conclusions and draft recommendations presented it to a wider audience for feedback before publication. After publication they are available for download free of charge.

There are over 130 Guidelines available on their website including ones in 2014 on dental caries and lung cancer and in 2013 on breast cancer, hepatitis C, chronic pain, schizophrenia and antithrombotic therapy. Most conditions have been covered at least once [5]

Scottish Medicines Consortium

The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has the role of providing advice to NHS Boards and their Area Drug and Therapeutics Committees (ADTCs) about all newly licensed medicines.[6]

It seeks to supply advice within 12 weeks of a new medicine being licensed to ensure that patients who could benefit can get access to the medicine as quickly as possible. The speed of the process has allowed the SMC to be compared favourably against the performance of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) which performs a similar role for the NHS in England and Wales.[7] On one occasion, NICE was accused of incompetence by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) for delaying issuing advice for England and Wales about a drug that had already been approved for use in Scotland by the SMC.[8] New cancer drugs approved by the Consortium in 2018 are expected to increase acute drugs bills for health boards by about 9% in 2019.[9]

Scottish Patient Safety Programme

The Scottish Patient Safety Programme (SPSP) was launched in January 2008 as a five-year programme. It had a primary aim to reduce mortality by 15 per cent and adverse events by 30 per cent across Scotland’s acute hospitals by the end of 2012.[10]

In June 2012 a second phase of the programme was announced, with an aim to ensure that at least 95 per cent of people receiving care do not experience harm – such as infections, falls, blood clots and pressure sores.[11]

The Pharmacy in Primary Care Collaborative is to run for two years from July 2014.[12]

"The Scottish Patient Safety Programme, marks Scotland as a leader, second to no nation on earth, in its commitment to reducing harm to patients, dramatically and continually." Donald Berwick, President Emeritus and Senior Fellow, Institute for Healthcare Improvement.[13]

See also


  1. MacPherson, Karen. "NHS Quality Improvement Scotland". Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  2. "Inspecting and regulating care". Healthcare Improvement Scotland. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
  3. "Person-centred care: Scottish Health Council". Healthcare Improvement Scotland. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
  4. "About SIGN". Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
  5. "Guidelines List". SIGN. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
  6. "About SMC: What we do". Scottish Medicines Consortium. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
  7. Paper by Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
  8. RNIB accuses NICE of incompetence
  9. "Scottish health board to see 16% hike in acute drugs cost over the next year". Pharmaceutical Journal. 1 April 2019. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  10. "Scottish Patient Safety Programme". Scottish Government. 25 November 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
  11. "Scottish Patient Safety Programme". Scottish Government. 18 June 2012. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
  12. "Four NHS boards chosen to join pharmacy collaborative". Healthcare Improvement Scotland. 13 June 2014. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
  13. "Initiatives: Scottish Patient Safety Programme". Institute for Healthcare Improvement. Archived from the original on 12 August 2014. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
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