Using NHS Scotland and community services

Your health and wellbeing while waiting

It’s not always easy to know where to get help from health and social care services and community organisations. This page gives you more information on these services and organisations. You can also find out how to use and access services that you may benefit from while waiting.

Preparing to see your specialist

It can sometimes be overwhelming to speak to a healthcare specialist. You may feel anxious, nervous or worry that you will not remember all the information you’re told.

But, there are things you can do if you’re waiting to see a specialist to talk about your treatment or care. This may make you feel more prepared for the appointment.


  • take someone with you to your consultation
  • take notes, or get the person with you to take notes – this could help you remember key facts
  • ask any questions you have – you could write them down before you go
  • talk through your options at your consultation

Making decisions about your care

NHS Scotland encourages shared decision making about your care. You’ll make these decisions with your doctor or healthcare professional. This process is known as realistic medicine.

You should be:

  • supported to ask questions about your care, condition and treatment
  • asked about your own goals and what matters to you

This will help you to make an informed choice about the treatment and care that’s right for you.

Using NHS Scotland services

Right care, right place

It’s important that you know where to get the right care, in the right place. This’ll help you get the care you need quickly, safely and as close to home as possible.

National Treatment Centres

The National Treatment Centres (NTCs) are a network of healthcare facilities across Scotland. You may be offered treatment at an NTC if you’re on the waiting list for:

  • Endoscopy
  • General Surgery
  • Ophthalmology
  • Orthopaedics
  • Orthopaedics

Services your local pharmacy can help with

Pharmacies provide different support and services. You do not usually need an appointment and you can go to any pharmacy. A pharmacist or a trained member of the pharmacy team can give advice and provide medicine.

A local information system for Scotland (ALISS)

ALISS contains details of different groups across Scotland. This includes health and wellbeing groups that offer support on issues like:

  • food and nutrition
  • activity
  • money worries
  • different health conditions

How health and social care services work

NHS Scotland and the health and social care service have many different areas. These work to support our health needs.

Local health boards

In Scotland, there are 14 local health boards that provide local health services. Some larger health boards also provide regional or national services for specialist care.

Local health boards provide direct services to people, including hospitals and maternity services.

They also have contracts for primary care from independent services. This includes:

  • General Medical Services (GPs and their teams)
  • General Dental Services
  • Community Pharmacy
  • Optometry
Health and Social Care Partnerships (HSCPs)

There are 31 Health and Social Care Partnerships (HSCPs) in Scotland. This is where a local health board and council work together to provide different health and social care services. Some of the services that people may be waiting for may be delivered by a HSCP.

Community organisations

Some services are also delivered by a range of community organisations. These are sometimes called third sector or charitable organisations or trusts.

You can find more local services from your local health board website. Your local HSCP website will also have more local resources.

Find health and wellbeing services across Scotland