The Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport committee has called for greater clarity over how Scotland £11bn annual health budget is being spent by NHS boards.
In its report published today, the committee said it must have access to the necessary information to enable it to answer “fundamental” questions of health policy, such as whether we are spending wisely and if we are planning for change.
“Health rightly receives one of the biggest allocations of the Scottish Government’s budget. The role of the Scottish Parliament is to provide scrutiny to ensure that public money is spent wisely,” Convener of the Health and Sport Committee Duncan McNeil MSP said.
Each of the 14 Health Boards provide MSPs with some information on how they spend their budgets, but McNeil said that issues around the “quality and clarity” of that information remain, adding:
“As a result, the Committee has been unable to answer fundamental questions about how NHS Boards spend their budgets – questions that relate to the quality, efficiency and planning of NHS services.”
The report also notes that the switch in funding from acute to community services has been “glacially slow”, adding that this is “disappointing” for switching the balance of care. While the committee said that it is “mindful” of the important role services based in acute hospitals play in meeting health care needs, it also noted that with cost pressures unlikely to reduce over time there is a “strong case” for change funds.
While some local authorities have made financial contributions to the change fund covering their population, others have not, it said. It also noted that while some funding has been transferred to the third sector, in the case of several boards this was less than 10 per cent.
However, the Committee said it is “too early” to judge what the success of change funds have been. It added that it will return to look at the input of the third sector regarding the change fund, as well as the evaluation of pilot schemes, especially in preventative care, and also the transition from earmarked to mainstream funding in its budget scrutiny plans for 2013-14.
The full report is available here: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/S4_HealthandSportCommittee/Reports/heR-12-09w.pdf