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About NHS Scotland

SEHD Victoria Quay Building

About the NHS in Scotland

Structure of NHSScotland
NHSScotland currently employs approximately 140,000 staff who work across 14 regional NHS Boards, seven Special NHS Boards and one public health body. 

Each NHS Board is accountable to Scottish Ministers, supported by the Scottish Government Health and Social Care Directorates.

Regional NHS Boards are responsible for the protection and the improvement of their population’s health and for the delivery of frontline healthcare services.  Special NHS Boards support the regional NHS Boards by providing a range of important specialist and national services.

All NHS Boards work together for the benefit of the people of Scotland. They also work closely with partners in other parts of the public sector to fulfil the Scottish Government’s Purpose and National Outcomes.

Quality Healthcare
The Healthcare Quality Strategy for Scotland was launched by the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Cities Strategy in May 2010.  This provides the basis for the people who deliver healthcare services in Scotland to work with partners and the public towards our three Quality Ambitions and shared vision of world-leading safe, effective and person-centred healthcare.

This vision and the focus on quality healthcare is the context for all strategic and operational decision-making across NHSScotland.

2020 Vision for NHSScotland
Since the launch of the Quality Strategy, the Scottish Government announced its ambitious plan for integrated health and social care and set out the 2020 Vision and Strategic Narrative for achieving sustainable quality in the delivery of health and social care across Scotland.

The 2020 Vision and the Strategic Narrative describe the challenges for health and social care for the future and provides a commonly agreed narrative about the direction we are working towards. The Quality Strategy provides the approach and the required actions to improve both quality and efficiency in order to achieve financial sustainability.

Everyone involved in the delivery of healthcare in Scotland is now asked to play their part in turning the vision into a reality.

Performance Management in NHSScotland
Each year, the Scottish Government sets performance targets for NHS Boards to ensure that the resources made available to them are directed to priority areas for improvement and are consistent with the Scottish Government’s Purpose and National Outcomes, These targets are focused on Health Improvement, Efficiency, Access and Treatment, and are known collectively as HEAT targets.  

Working in Partnership with Local Authorities and the Third Sector
NHSScotland is committed to working closely with partners in local authorities and the third sector. This is crucial to achieving our ambitions for a healthier Scotland and to meeting the challenges of the years ahead. The Quality Strategy provides a basis for NHSScotland to work with partners, through Community Planning Partnerships, to secure progress towards our three Quality Ambitions, and the outcomes agreed locally and nationally through the Single Outcome Agreements and the National Performance Framework.

History of NHSScotland
The National Health Service (Scotland) Act 1947 came into effect on 5 July 1948 and created the National Health Service in Scotland.  Many sections of the Act were repealed by the National Health Service (Scotland) Act 1972 and the remaining provisions were repealed by the National Health Service (Scotland) Act 1978.

More information on history of NHSScotland can be found on the 60th Anniversary website which was created to mark 60 years of the NHS in Scotland in 2008.

NHS Boards
NHSScotland consists of:

  • Fourteen regional NHS Boards which are responsible for the protection and the improvement of their population’s health and for the delivery of frontline healthcare services.
  • Seven Special NHS Boards and one public health body who support the regional NHS Boards by providing a range of important specialist and national services.


NHS Ayrshire and Arran
NHS Borders
NHS Dumfries and Galloway
NHS Fife
NHS Forth Valley
NHS Grampian
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde
NHS Highland
NHS Lanarkshire
NHS Lothian
NHS Orkney
NHS Shetland
NHS Tayside
NHS Western Isles

NHS Special NHS Boards

NHS Education for Scotland
NHSScotland's education and training body ensuring that patients and their families get the best healthcare possible from well trained and educated staff.

NHS Health Scotland
Promoting ways to improve the health of the population and reduce health inequalities.

NHS National Waiting Times Centre
Ensuring prompt access to first-class treatment.

Providing health advice and information.

Scottish Ambulance Service
Responding to almost 600,000 accident and emergency calls and taking 1.6 million patients to and from hospital each year.

The State Hospitals Board for Scotland
Providing assessment, treatment and care in conditions of special security for individuals with a mental disorder whom because of their dangerous, violent or criminal propensities, cannot be cared for in any other setting.

NHS National Services Scotland
Supplying essential services including health protection, blood transfusion and information.

Public Health Body

Healthcare Improvement Scotland
Delivering high quality, evidence-based, safe, effective and person-centred care, and scrutinising services to provide public assurance about the quality and safety of healthcare.