Cole-Hamilton: Act now to save NHS from the brink

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has today warned that the NHS is "on the brink" after a new report from the Auditor General found that finds that performance continued to decline in 2017/18 and the NHS is not financially sustainable in its current form.

In her annual review of the NHS, the Auditor General for Scotland reports:

  • In 2017/18 the health budget was £13.1 billion - a 0.2 per cent decrease from 2016/17 after inflation.
  • NHS boards struggled to achieve unprecedented savings of £449.1 million, relying heavily on one-off savings and short-term measures.
  • Only one of the eight key performance targets was met nationally, with performance declining and no board achieving all eight.
  • More people waited longer for outpatient and inpatient appointments.
  • Significant workforce challenges, with difficulties recruiting and increases in sickness absence and staff turnover.
  • Boards are also considering the potential impact of EU withdrawal on areas such as staffing, the supply and cost of drugs, and food prices.

Commenting on the report, Mr Cole-Hamilton said:

"This report recognises the unprecedented challenges facing our most precious institution. There is no area of the health service which is not feeling the strain and the combined challenges are taking the NHS to the brink.

"Simply put, patients and staff are not getting the support and resources they need.

"Scottish Liberal Democrats demand better. That's why we are calling for a stepchange to how we treat mental health, an end to bed blocking, new workforce planning measures to ensure our health service has the staff it needs and an exit from Brexit which threatens to have a huge impact on staffing and medicine supplies."

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