Five health boards requiring government intervention, MSPs told

Written by Tom Freeman on 21 December 2018 in News

NHS Scotland chief Paul Gray confirms five health boards are operating below expected standards and require support

Paul Gray - Scottish Parliament

Five of Scotland’s NHS regional health boards require intervention by government because the quality of patient care is being threatened, MSPs have been told.

In a letter to the Scottish Parliament’s health committee, outgoing NHS Scotland chief executive Paul Gray revealed how all health boards were operating against a performance framework.

On a scale of one to five, where five indicates the board is facing serious difficulties and unable to provide “effective care”, NHS Ayrshire and Arran and NHS Forth Valley are at stage three, NHS Highland and NHS Borders are at stage four and NHS Tayside is classified at stage five.

All these require external support, according to the guidelines.

Audit Scotland has reported boards continue to live outwith their means as they struggle to meet demand, while health and social care integration has yet to deliver joined up financial planning.

Speaking to Holyrood’s Public Audit and Post-legislative Scrutiny Committee yesterday, Gray said government reforms had been radical and aimed at tackling persistent challenges, but had to be allowed to “run their course”.

“I expect the future to be very different to today, in the same way as today is very different from ten years ago,” he said.

In October, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman announced the regional health boards will have their debts to government written off ahead of a “new deal” which will give them three years to balance their books.

Opposition figures said the fact five are classified as being in trouble showed they were in crisis.

Conservative shadow health secretary Miles Briggs said: “After 11 years of the SNP mismanaging our health service we now have over a third of our health boards unable to operate properly or meet the needs of their communities.

“Indeed, SNP financial mismanagement of our Scottish NHS has seen SNP ministers forced to write off £150 million of NHS debt.”

Scottish Labour health spokeswoman Monica Lennon said: “This is a brutal assessment of the crisis facing our health service under the SNP.

“Earlier this year, Audit Scotland warned that the NHS was not financially sustainable and the impact of that. The Scottish Government’s complacency is becoming ever more apparent.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “Ministers could have stopped this going so far if they had listened to health professionals’ concerns about under-staffing and strained resources.”

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