Scotland launches new physical activity pathway and staff training resources

SG healthier scotland_ColourBy Dr David White, Dr Andrew Murray, and Lorna Smith

The recent £500 million pound bailout of struggling A&E services in England attracted significant media interest, with many observers suggesting such investment simply “papers over the cracks” in the NHS.

The need for this ‘bailout’ serves as a potent reminder that a major re-prioritisation is needed across the NHS, with an emphasis on the prevention of disease, supported self-management of chronic illness, and a disinvestment in medications. Steps towards this approach will help build new, more substantial,  foundations for the NHS.

To help deliver this vision of healthcare, the Scottish Government is committed to embedding the promotion of physical activity across the entire healthcare system.

Whilst recognising the important role NHS staff can play in getting the nation more active, there is an appreciation that our workforce must be supported to deliver, and that staff knowledge, skills and behaviour must be addressed in advance of any large scale patient behaviour-change.

To support this, NHS Health Scotland and Scottish Government have launched of new a suite of physical activity resources, endorsed by the Chief Medical Officer, Chief Nursing Officer, and AHP Directors of Scotland:

  •  The new National Physical Activity Pathway comprises of a simple validated screening tool for inactivity (Scot-PASQ) and evidence-based interventions, designed to be flexibly embedded across a broad range of settings and specialties.
  • Every Step Counts’, a 30-minute video in 6 short chapters, has been produced to facilitate adoption of this approach in clinics, wards and surgeries throughout the country. A range of healthcare professionals feature in the scenarios, with nurses, physiotherapists, dieticians and medical consultants all playing their part, highlighting the collaborative approach required to steer this crucial culture change.
  • Free online training e-module ‘Raising the Issue of Physical Activity’
  •   ‘Active Scotland’ [] is a website that all health professionals can signpost patients to in order to identify physical activity opportunities in their local area.


The broad aims of these resources are:

  • To raise awareness of the NHS’ role in promoting physical activity.
  •  To increase staff knowledge of national Physical Activity Guidelines and the new Physical Activity Pathway.
  • To inspire individuals and groups to embed physical activity promotion as routine practice.
  • To increase skills and confidence by providing examples of professionals assessing and supporting patients in becoming more active.


Explore the full suite of resources and learn more about the drive for NHS physical activity promotion in Scotland at:


For specific support or information please contact the NHS Health Scotland


By Dr David White, Dr Andrew Murray, Lorna Smith

Dr David White and Dr Andrew Murray are Sport and Exercise Medicine Registrars in Scotland, and recently worked for one year with the Physical Activity Policy Team in the Scottish Government.

Lorna Smith is a Senior Health Improvement Programme Officer with NHS Health Scotland.

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