“This year’s initial allocation to Forth Valley NHS is the poorest since 97/98 – the last budget set by the Tories,” says Falkirk East MSP Cathy Peattie
“Forth Valley’s allocation in 1997 was £135 million – only 2.2% up on the previous year. Since then the increases have averaged over 10%, have been as high as 43.1%, and for budgets decided by the Scottish Parliament, never less than 6.9%, with the initial allocation growing to nearly £363 million last year.
This year, however, the increase is only 3.5%.
The Scottish government makes the excuse that there has been a tight financial settlement from the UK Treasury. While the increase was not as big as some years, the Scottish Budget still rose by 1.8% in real terms, and despite this, the SNP’s allocation to health boards rose by only 0.5% in real terms. In other words, they have chosen to spend less on our local NHS.
Two weeks ago Cathy revealed that she was “extremely concerned” about funding for Forth Valley NHS, following the release of papers as a result of a Freedom of Information request.
“The Scottish Government is now looking for record efficiency savings to offset additional costs that are not covered by central funding.
“Governments have always looked for some improvements in how things are run that will release funding for other purposes – typically this has been 1%. Now suddenly this will more than double over the next three years. It is estimated that NHS Forth Valley is seeking £9m savings this year, rising over three years to more than £30m, equivalent to about 8% of the current budget.
“It is very difficult to see how this level of savings can be achieved without a direct impact on patient services and staffing levels. After years of achieving savings at around 1% – a lower but still very significant and more importantly a manageable level – how can there be so much slack in the system?
“Forth Valley NHS will of course be reluctant to admit the extent of the problem or to criticise the Scottish Government, but if they really believe that they can suddenly double the rate of efficiency savings, not just for one year, but year on year for three years, then they must explain why haven’t they achieved such savings in the past. Is it because higher savings could only have come from cuts in staff and provision?
” As a percentage of total costs, the NHS does not have a big administrative budget. It is very labour intensive, needs to address problems such as superbugs, and new technology and new treatments are increasingly expensive. The NHS needs increases that are well above inflation just to keep pace with new developments in medicine.
“Look at the figures. Over the last ten years, the allocations have increased by an average of over 10% – well beyond inflation. This year the increase is just 3.5%. So where are the savings going to come from?”
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