Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton today said that wholesale budget cuts will hurt frontline NHS services following reports that health boards are currently axing £400m from budgets.
An investigation by the Times newspaper revealed health board executives have said that they are being asked to make savings of a magnitude that has not been achieved in the past. NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde are currently consulting on plans for £69 million of savings that could see hospitals and maternity units closed.
The Times reported that island health boards are reviewing subsidies for patient travel in a move that could see cutbacks in the use of staff escorts, and ferries used in place of air travel. NHS Lothian has already made £22 million in savings, with a further £31 million required.
Commenting, Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said:
"Every part of our NHS is operating under enormous pressure. Further cuts on the scale that are planned can only hurt front-line services. Doctors, nurses and other NHS are staff are working flat out. We are facing a crisis in primary care, mental health provision and other areas of the health service and targets are still being missed.
"The SNP talk up their commitment to the NHS but investment in health has lagged behind spending in England. Unless we start seeing investment on a substantial scale then the pressures will be intolerable."