The great improvement in an NHS board’s financial performance over the last three years has been formally recognised by the Scottish Government.

NHS Highland has officially moved to stage three in the Government’s NHS Scotland performance escalation framework following strengthened financial processes and improvements in areas such as governance, leadership and culture.

Professor Boyd Robertson, NHS Highland’s Chair, said: “This is a welcome signal of increased Government confidence in the performance of NHS Highland and acknowledges the strides that have been made by the Board in progressing our transformation agenda. The de-escalation recognises the scale of our financial recovery and the tremendous work which has been carried out in bringing us closer to a balanced budget during the last three years.

“NHS Highland has worked closely with the Scottish Government since 2018 to create structures within our organisation to support this programme of work whilst ensuring that frontline services remain robust and effective. We will, of course, continue to use these embedded structures and processes in order to sustain improvements and further reduce the escalation level.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has changed how we deliver many of our services and our response to the ongoing situation has been strengthened by our improved financial processes.”

Professor Robertson added: “The move to Stage 3 also indicates the progress that has been made in leadership, governance and culture across NHS Highland. We know that there is still much work to be done but it is encouraging to see how our culture programme is developing and we are committed to ensuring NHS Highland creates a workplace environment where our colleagues feel valued, respected and listened to.

“I want to thank our staff for all they have done to ensure that the Health Board is able to make the move to Stage 3. It is the remarkable dedication of our staff across Highland, Argyll and Bute that has enabled this positive outcome.”

The cabinet secretary for health and social care, Humza Yousaf, said: “I thank health boards for their extraordinary achievements in responding to Covid-19, and for continued efforts to improve performance. We will continue to work with boards to ensure patients receive first class care.”