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Scottish Government ‘could have been better prepared’ for pandemic

Jane Barlow/PA Archive/PA Images

Scottish Government ‘could have been better prepared’ for pandemic

The NHS in Scotland could have been better prepared to respond to the pandemic, public sector watchdog Audit Scotland has said.

A delayed report into the health service said the Scottish Government did not fully implement improvements identified by a 2011 pandemic preparedness strategy.

It also said the government did not include an influenza pandemic as a standalone risk on health and social care risk registers, despite it being assessed as high risk.

However, the report also praised the government for acting quickly at the start of the pandemic.

It said that measures such as increasing intensive care beds and stopping non-urgent care had prevented the health service from being overwhelmed.

Going forward, Audit Scotland has recommended the government update and publish national pandemic guidance for health and social care, including lessons learned from COVID-19 and other preparedness exercises.

It has also called for remobilisation efforts to be carefully monitored to ensure sufficient progress is made as services are reintroduced.

Auditor general Stephen Boyle said: “NHS staff have shown extraordinary commitment to treating and caring for Scotland's people during a pandemic that has highlighted the need to deal with long-standing health inequalities.

“Getting the full range of health services back up and running will be challenging.

“But there are clear lessons to be learned from the pandemic, both in how the country could have been better prepared and in the innovation that we've seen. It’s essential that these advances are now retained and built upon.”

The annual report on the NHS would normally have been published in October, but was delayed this year due to the pandemic.

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