Healthcare in Scotland
Healthcare in Scotland is mainly provided by Scotland's public health service, NHS Scotland, that provides healthcare to all permanent residents that is free at the point of need and paid for from general taxation. Health is a matter that is devolved, and considerable differences are now developing between the public healthcare systems in the different countries of the United Kingdom. Though the public system dominates healthcare provision, private health care and a wide variety of alternative and complementary treatments are available for those willing to pay.
The National Health Service (NHS) in Scotland was created by the National Health Service (Scotland) Act 1947 in 1948 at the same time as the NHS was created for England and Wales. It remains a separate body from the other public health systems in the UK although this is often not realised by patients when "cross-border" or emergency care is involved.
Primary and secondary care are integrated in Scotland. NHS trusts do not exist in Scotland. Healthcare is provided through fourteen regional health boards. Health boards are, however, subdivided into Community Health Partnerships.
In 2008, the NHS in Scotland had around 158,000 staff including more than 47,500 nurses, midwives and health visitors and over 3,800 consultants. In addition, there are also more than 12,000 doctors, family practitioners and allied health professionals, including dentists, opticians and community pharmacists, who operate as independent contractors providing a range of services within the NHS. Prescriptions are entirely free from May 2010. Fees are still payable to dentists and opticians. 
Healthcare policy and funding is the responsibility of the Scottish Government's Health Directorates. The current Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Sport is Shona Robison. The Director-General (DG) of Health and Social Care, Chief Executive of NHS Scotland is Derek Feeley.
Private clinics carrying out dental and other healthcare services, including non-surgical cosmetic interventions will be subject to regulation by Healthcare Improvement Scotland from 2016. 4% of the Scottish population have had a cosmetic procedure.
The number of referrals to private companies by NHS Scotland increased from almost 13,000 in 2013/4 to more than 28,000 in 2014/5 at a cost of £37 million. The biggest increase was in MRI scans in Glasgow.
Healthcare Improvement Scotland is responsible for scrutiny of NHS hospitals and services, and independent healthcare services.
- NHS now four different systems BBC January 2, 2008
- About the NHS in Scotland NHS Scotland
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