Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson, Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP today said the foundations of the NHS aren’t safe in the SNP’s hands after a damning new independent report revealed the impact of years of short-sighted decision making by Scottish ministers.
The report from Audit Scotland said “major challenges lie ahead for the NHS in Scotland” and revealed:
- “Despite multiple strategies for reform, NHS funding has not changed course” and a clear and detailed plan for change is now needed, setting out what the future of the NHS looks like, how much it will cost and how it will be delivered;
- Funding for the NHS is not keeping pace with increasing demand and cost pressures;
- NHS Boards are contending with “unprecedented” budget cuts and there is a risk that some won’t achieve balance.
- NHS Scotland failed to meet seven out of eight key performance targets;
- Problems with the roll-out of integrated joint boards;
- Workforce plans only lasting five years, despite the fact it takes seven years to train a doctor;
- Increasing spending by boards on temporary staff;
Mr Cole-Hamilton commented:
“This independent report confirms that Scotland’s NHS is creaking as a result of increased demand for its services and short-sighted decision making from SNP ministers. The foundations of the NHS aren’t safe in the SNP’s hands.
“The Audit Scotland report makes it clear that while SNP ministers talk a good game, they have utterly failed to shift the balance of care and put the NHS on a sustainable footing for the future. This is typified by the fact that it takes seven years to train a doctor but staffing levels are only being planned five years ahead of time.
“Even the Scottish Government’s flagship response to the problems the NHS is facing, the integration of health and social care, risks falling flat unless urgent action is taken. Audit Scotland has highlighted that in this, their first year of operating, the new joint boards look set to make ‘little change’ in the way services are provided and none have firm financial plans for beyond the end of March.
“NHS staff are working flat out but they can’t continually be asked to offset the crises facing primary care, staffing, mental health and other areas of the service. Unless they are given the resources they need and intelligent support, targets will be missed and missed again
“Scottish Liberal Democrats have demanded that the Health Secretary come to Parliament and explain how the Scottish Government will go about addressing the huge challenges set out in this report.