£400M for NHS not enough, says BMA

15 December 2017, 11:55

Hospital scene

Doctors leaders have argued the £400 million increase in NHS funding for 2018-19 contained in the Scottish Government's Budget is "simply not enough" to cope with rising demand for health services.

As part of his tax and spending proposals for next year, Finance Secretary Derek Mackay announced funding for the health service would be increased to a record high of more than £13.1 billion.

This includes £110 million for reforming GP care, £550 million to help integrate health and social care and cash to support the roll out of free personal care to those under 65 with degenerative conditions - the commitment known as ''Frank's Law''.

Health Secretary Shona Robison said the Budget would increase investment in areas such as primary care and child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), as well as helping fund projects such as the development of new trauma centres.

She stated: "The health portfolio's resource budget will increase by over £400 million, taking it to a record high of over £13.1 billion in total.

"Our NHS turns 70 next year and we're prioritising investment in frontline health boards service, who will receive additional 3.7% of funding to support our twin approach of investment and reform in our NHS.

"This means that next year our health resource budget will be £360 million higher than if we had only delivered real terms increases since the last Scottish Parliament election."

But Dr Peter Bennie, chair of BMA Scotland, said: "While increased spending on the health service in Scotland is welcome, there is still simply not enough money to meet the growing demand for services, driven by our increasing elderly population.

"The BMA has warned for some time that this funding gap exists and is already having an impact, with services beginning to deteriorate, patients suffering as a result and more pressure being put on already overworked staff.

"NHS boards are still faced with having to make considerable savings and being forced into decisions over where to direct insufficient resources, rather than being able to make choices that fully meet local needs.

"Unless there is more significant action to close this gap, then it will become increasingly difficult for doctors and the whole healthcare workforce to maintain the level of care they currently provide, far less drive the change needed for the future."

He also said the public sector pay policy unveiled in the Budget would mean "another real terms pay cut for many NHS doctors".

Dr Bennie added: "At a time when recruitment and retention is such a challenge, and against a background of long term pay restraint, this is extremely disappointing.

"The decision to limit reward for those doctors who have trained and served longest is particularly troubling."