When we launched our Strategic Plan last September, COVID-19 had already changed much of life in Scotland and it was clear that it would have a lasting impact on our health and wellbeing. This reinforced that our vision of a Scotland where everybody thrives and our ambition for Scotland to have a world-class public health system was more important than ever.

The publication last week of our Delivery Plan 2021-24 is a further milestone in the journey towards realising our vision. The right to good health is at the heart of the plan and it sets out what we will do this year and beyond in our four priority areas. Responding to and supporting the recovery from COVID-19 is, and will continue to be, an integral part of our work going forward. But we are also committed to driving forward action mental wellbeing, community and place, and poverty and children. We will focus on where we can make the biggest difference to Scotland’s public health challenges.

In the year ahead we will be working with partners across the system to achieve our shared outcomes. To highlight just a few examples: our specialist insights and timely data will continue to inform how Scotland responds to the pandemic. We will work closely with partners to provide the intelligence and tools needed at a local level as well as sharing national data and analysis. To support sustainable healthy communities we will co-design and begin implementation of place-based programmes such as 20-minute neighbourhoods. Working in partnership with Nesta, COSLA and a range of other national and local partners, we’ll be making sure that communities have a voice in the design of the places that affect their health. Our work to reduce inequalities and create a more inclusive economy will include a number of programmes with Skills Development Scotland and City Region partners to explore the benefits of community wealth building on health and wellbeing.

We now have the crucial strategic foundations in place to build upon. We have a plan spanning the whole organisation, designed to deliver on the vision and priorities in our Strategic Plan. We have outcomes, milestones and indicators that we can use to monitor our performance and make sure that we focus our resources on what will make a difference. Importantly we also have our organisational values, which underpin all that we do; collaboration, respect, integrity, excellence and innovation. The past year has underlined just how important these values are.

The year ahead will build on the work undertaken in our first year. Looking back, we’ve achieved a great deal in this time. We rapidly adapted and responded to COVID whilst also driving forward action in other key areas including drug-related harm and mental health. Our first End of Year performance report, also published last week, highlights some of this work and demonstrates the real impact that can be achieved working in partnership.

The report uses case studies and key facts to give an overview of the year and what we have achieved. The report highlights how we generated world-leading practical insights into COVID, and how we worked to keep vital services safe. It also looks at how we supported ongoing action around drugs and alcohol, and the pivotal role our data and intelligence, innovation and collaboration played throughout the year. Reflecting on our impact in this way helps us to make sure that what we’re doing is helping to steadily improve the health and wellbeing of people across our communities.

I’d like to acknowledge and thank PHS staff and people across the wider public health system for their contributions, and for their resilience. Working together throughout the pandemic has created a real culture of collaboration that we intend to continue building on, to deliver on our strategic priorities and improve Scotland’s public health outcomes.

Last updated: 28 June 2021