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Health and public safety in Scotland are the focus of topics in this portion of our guide. Police, fire, and emergency medical services within the country are included here, along with hospitals, clinics, and other medical services.

Healthcare in Scotland is provided by National Health Service (NHS) Scotland, the Scottish public health service, and is free to all permanent residents, paid for through general taxation. Although the public healthcare system is the most commonly used, a large variety of alternative and complementary health and medical treatments are available to those who can pay.

NHS Scotland has been in operation for more than seventy years, although the origins of a national health service date back more than a century. As far back as 1913, the Highlands and Islands Medical Service provided free medical treatment to a population that covered more than half of Scotland. This service provided doctor, nurse, and midwife services to Scotland's remote countryside. It remained in place throughout World War I and II, before being replaced by NHS Scotland.

Managed by NHS Scotland, employed or self-employed residents of Scotland, as well as their spouses and immediate families, are entitled to tax-supported healthcare. Since 2011, prescriptions filled in Scotland are also covered. Full-time students are eligible for the same healthcare coverage.

However, public healthcare is available on a needs basis. Treatments not available through NHS Scotland may be obtained through private healthcare when the patient is covered by a private healthcare plan or can afford the charges.

Publicly covered services include accident and emergency treatments, medical advice from a general practitioner, emergency and non-emergency hospital treatments, and prescribed medications, although some doctor services, some dental treatments, and some optical treatments may have to be paid for.

Persons residing in Scotland are expected to register with a local Scottish general practitioner, but registration is free.

NHS Scotland is the largest single employer in the country, employing people in more than seventy professions.

Officially known as the Police Service of Scotland, Police Scotland is the national Scottish police agency. Police Scotland was formed in 2013 through the merger of eight regional police forces, as well as the Scottish Police Services Authority, and the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency. Police Scotland is the second-largest police force in the United Kingdom, after the Metropolitan Police Service in Greater London.

Scotland is also policed by the Ministry of Defence Police, British Transport Police, and the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, which operates within their respective jurisdictions. The Metropolitan Police Service and the National Crime Agency have some jurisdiction in Scotland, although their presence is limited.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service was formed in 2013 by merging eight regional fire services. It is the largest fire brigade in the United Kingdom, surpassing the London Fire Brigade. The eight services that were merged were the Central Scotland Fire and Rescue Service, Dumfries and Galloway Fire and Rescue Service, Fife Fire and Rescue Service, Grampian Fire and Rescue Service, Highlands, and Islands Fire and Rescue Service, Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Services, Strathclyde Fire and Rescue, and Tayside Fire and Rescue Service.

Part of NHS Scotland, the Scottish Ambulance Service is the only public emergency medical service covering Scotland's mainland and islands. It provides a paramedic-led accident and emergency service to respond to 999 calls, a patient transport service, and a variety of supporting roles, including air ambulance services.



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