Service change resources

Service change resources

What is Service Change?

This short video explains how health and care services evolve through changes like improved access, new technologies, and relocations.

Public engagement is essential to include community views, especially from vulnerable groups, ensure new ideas are heard, build public trust, and reduce the risk of legal challenges.


Health and care services are constantly adapting so they can best meet people’s needs. A service change can be a development or a change in the way people access health and care.

Service changes may include:

  • Improving access, new technologies or facilities
  • relocation, decommissioning or withdrawal of a service
  • centralising specialist services locally, regionally, or nationally

Even if there has already been public consultation on a health service strategy, additional engagement may be needed for individual service change proposals. People must be involved in planning and developing services; and their views considered when decisions are being made.

This helps ensure:

  • greater understanding of the issues for people and communities, especially those who are vulnerable or seldom-reached
  • new ideas are heard
  • improved public confidence and trust, and
  • reduced risk of legal challenge. Service changes can be temporary or permanent and occur in any health setting.

Temporary changes may be made to ensure patient safety or safe staffing levels. The Scottish Government and COSLA have developed national guidance called ‘Planning with People’ to support meaningful public engagement in health and care service planning.

Healthcare Improvement Scotland offers advice to NHS boards and Integration Joint Boards on involving people in all health-related service changes. We also quality assure how people have been involved in certain proposed changes to services.

Last Updated: 4 June 2024