Scottish Liberal Democrats have warned that the SNP government are acting as a blockade to its own flagship health policy after a damning report revealed the extent of financial and demographic pressures facing struggling health boards.
The Audit Scotland report, published today (Thursday 30th), urged the Scottish Government to review current financial and performance targets for the NHS in order to ensure its flagship 2020 Vision can be met. A planned 0.9 percent real terms reduction to the overall health budget in the next two years and budget restraints which prevent longer term planning were noted as sources of increasing strain on Scotland’s health service.
Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Jim Hume MSP said:
"This eye-opening report shows that the SNP Government's cuts agenda to the NHS is coming down the hill when health boards are already teetering on the brink. A near one percent cut in real terms over the next two years could knock them over.
"We know from experience that these cuts could be damaging because health boards like NHS Orkney, NHS Grampian and NHS Highland have historically been underfunded by the centralising SNP government. This independent report shows that NHS Grampian is being starved of £39.9million in 2013/14 alone.
"It is a disgrace that health boards are then being forced to go cap in hand to the SNP government when the SNP government are yet to give health boards their full resource allocation.
"This is not sustainable or fair for patients in the North and only results in worsening performance against crucial waiting times.
"People will wonder why the SNP government are forcing Scotland's health service to limp on from year to year at a time when they should be strengthening its defences for the greater challenges of the future. This short-sighted approach has been proven to be bust through failing performance against a range of waiting times, staff shortages and an over-reliance on costly locum staff. Scottish Liberal Democrats have gladly supported Vision 2020 but it seems the only blockade to its success is the SNP government."