Following the news that NHS Lanarkshire is to cut £19.2m from its budget, John Pentland has called for frontline services and jobs to be safeguarded.
Motherwell and Wishaw MSP John Pentland has said resources should be targeted at protecting frontline NHS staff and services, after a report from an independent health economist showed that NHS Lanarkshire is being forced to cut a further £19.2m over the next year – 2.3% of their budget. Despite the SNP claiming before the election it would “protect the health service”, the report from Dr Andrew Walker from University of Glasgow states that £226.7 million is planned to be cut from Scotland’s NHS in 2012-13.
Advances in medicine and technology mean that the cost of medicines and treatment rises faster than general inflation. So in order to balance the projected expenditure growth with a very small increase in income, NHS Lanarkshire has identified £19.22m of cost savings, including three main areas: £4.79m from switching to generic drugs and alternative cheaper drugs, and limiting the use of drugs “without proven effectiveness” (which could include many newer drugs until they have been extensively assessed); £4.76m from procurement; and £1.13m from administrative services; leaving about £8.5m to be found in smaller amounts across the rest of the service.
The report states that health boards intend to make savings through “programmes to improve … workforce efficiency” and warns that “could be frontline as well”. Across Scotland, NHS workers have borne the brunt of SNP cuts with over 4,500 losing their jobs, including more than 2,000 nurses, since 2009. The report also outlines a series of “priority” developments that health boards will now be unable to fund. In Lanarkshire, these include time needed for nurses to improve “the patient experience”, support for best patient care, and addressing the issue of hospital food.
“The SNP government at Holyrood appear increasingly out of touch with the pain they are inflicting on our health services here in Motherwell and Wishaw. It is grossly unfair that hardworking frontline staff are being forced to bear the brunt of the SNP’s cuts. It is a betrayal of all those who put their trust in SNP promises to protect the health service and frontline workers. The cold, hard reality is that across Scotland, health boards are being forced to make multi-million pound cuts because of SNP budget decisions.
“Here in Lanarkshire our health board is being forced to cut another £19.2m from its budgets. The number of nurses in Scotland increased year on year under Labour. By contrast, under the SNP over 4,500 NHS workers have lost their jobs, including 2,000 nurses. You can’t take 4,500 staff out the NHS and expect it not to have an impact on patient care. We need to target resources at the frontline to protect staff doing valuable jobs caring and saving lives.”
- Dr Walker’s paper
- The Scottish Parliament Information Centre analysis (table 1.06)
- Audit Scotland report
- Number of NHS staff (see ‘Trend’ tab)