Cleft Services In Scotland

March 23, 2017


Shared on behalf of the National Services Division (NSD)


On 23 December 2016, the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing approved the recommendation to centralise the specialist surgical elements of the national cleft service on one site in Glasgow and announced that there would be a 6 month transition period to support this change. This letter is to let you know about the process of making that happen.

Since the announcement National Services Division (NSD), NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde (NHSGGC) and NHS Lothian (NHSL) have been working to plan a smooth transition to the new arrangements for the service by the end of June 2017.  The main change is that all specialist surgery for children and adults with cleft lip and palate in Scotland will be at the Royal Hospital for Children and the Queen Elizabeth University Hospitals in Glasgow respectively. There are no changes planned to local clinic provision.

Current Service Provision

As you may have heard, since the end of November 2016, one of the three surgeons who provide the current service has been unavailable. As a result NHS GG&C and NHSL have been focusing their attention, to date, on making sure patients who need to be seen in clinic or have operations are given timely care. We would like to reassure patients, parents and clinical colleagues that the two Boards have been working very closely, with the support of local clinical teams in other Health Boards, to make sure all patients identified are managed appropriately.

The current interim arrangements were put in place in order to provide continuity of care and ensure that patients get the right care at the right time.

Future Service Provision

While ensuring the continued provision of service to patients across NHS Scotland has been the appropriate priority, work is in hand to plan for the transition to the new service for the end of June 2017.

A Transition Oversight Group (TOG) has been established, involving NSD, NHSGGC, NHSL, Cleft Care Scotland and the Cleft Lip & Palate Association (CLAPA) to oversee the transition process.  The first meeting of the Transition Oversight Group took place in mid March and discussed progress in development of the transition plan.  The transition plan is being developed by NHSGGC & NHSL and will set out the details on how the new single service will be delivered, including how it will support the current level of outpatient and outreach cleft service across Scotland.

Once the transition plan to the new single surgical service is confirmed it will be communicated from the TOG through a number of routes, including directly to patients & families and staff and through Cleft Care Scotland and CLAPA.

In the meantime, if anyone has queries about their own child’s care/ their own care, these should be directed in the first instance to the appropriate local cleft clinicians or to the Cleft Nurse Specialists so these can be addressed promptly.