Scotland: NHS, SMC, and HIS Explained


We have a wealth of information in our data platform and are using the Context Matters blog to share bits of important information with our readers. This week we turn our eye to Scotland.

Did You Know?

NHS Scotland is the national healthcare system in Scotland under which SMC (Scottish Medicines Consortium) and HIS (Healthcare Improvement Scotland) operate. SMC is the agency that reviews all newly licensed pharmaceutical drugs to advise approval for NHS Scotland. This is a fairly quick process because the manufacturer submits all information used in their decision.

Usually, Scotland also looks at the detailed multiple technology assessments (MTA) that are later published by the UK agency, NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence). NICE often looks at a group of pharmaceutical drugs at once, and includes additional economic modeling. HIS looks at these NICE MTA documents, and has the power to make the decision to approve the drug by agreeing or disagreeing with NICE's assessment. In most cases, the HIS agrees with the reimbursement recommendations listed in the NICE assessment.

Most of the time, the HIS decision (which is based on the NICE MTA) will be in agreement with SMC's decision. In cases where HIS and SMC issue conflicting decisions, the decision made by HIS stands as the accepted advice that NHS Scotland recognizes.

Is there a question you have about any or all of Scotland’s agencies, or is there something else you want to ask?