Developing capacity and achieving sustainable implementation in healthy ‘settings’: insights from NHS Health Scotland's Health Promoting Health Service project

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Health services continue to be seen as significant settings for health improvement, and developments continue to be made in the nature of such work, means of optimal delivery and outcomes. This paper builds on previous work by reporting on activity in a series of sites within ‘NHS Health Scotland's (NHS HS)’ Health Promoting Health Service (HPHS) initiative. The objectives of the review were to: describe the achievements of HPHS sites, assess the degree of influence and embedding of the HPHS approach, review the support functions provided by ‘NHS HS' and identify the challenges to implementation and sustainability. The review identified a variety of activity associated with HPHS, ranging from a topic focused/behaviour change approach to efforts to re-orientate organizational features. The role that NHS HS played in developing settings capacity was largely endorsed, and there was, despite the existence of some barriers, evidence that HPHS was being successfully embedded within health service organizational policies and procedures. In particular, the role of a national level strategic guidance document to NHS CEOs [‘Chief Executive Letter (14)'] is noted as having been significant in creating a conducive context for HPHS. In this context, the paper concludes by reflecting more broadly on the current status of settings-based health improvement and suggests that on the basis of this review there should be optimism in pursuing a relatively expansive vision of health improvement in this particular setting and potentially others.

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