NHS funding increase ‘will not meet demand’ warn doctors

Written by Tom Freeman on 13 December 2018 in News

Derek Mackay pledged a £730m health spending rise in the Scottish budget, but the BMA warns it will not be enough

Doctor - credit Alex Proimos

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay’s pledge to increase NHS funding by £730m will not be enough to meet demands on the health service, doctors have warned.

BMA Scotland have said the real-terms increase of around £500m, funded by increased NHS spending in England via the Barnett formula, will not fill the gap between demand and resources.

Mackay accused to UK Government of failing to pass on the full amount promised, adding he would make up the additional £55m through Scotland’s unique tax system.

Nevertheless, he said health was a “top priority” of his budget, promising “a further shift in the balance of spend towards mental health and primary, community and social care.

“As part of that, we are increasing our package of investment in social care and integration to more than £700 million in 2019-20.

“We will increase our direct investment in mental health services by £27 million, taking the overall funding for mental health to £1.1 billion in 2019-20, which includes our work to improve mental health services support in schools.”

Responding, Lewis Morrison, chair of BMA Scotland said: “The resources needed to deliver care in Scotland are simply not keeping up with demand for that care. While there is welcome extra funding for health in today’s budget, it is unlikely to make any significant difference to this growing gap, and the impact it is already having on our health services.”


He called for a “clear, realistic and detailed plan” to reduce the funding gap.

“There simply is no clear plan in place to deal with this growing gap, and despite increased funding, substantial efficiency savings are still likely to be demanded of NHS boards.

“These are boards which are already struggling to deal not just with growing demand, but also the requirement to meet a raft of targets that often say little about quality of care and are the subject of disproportionate media and political attention.”

Dr Alasdair Forbes, deputy chair (Policy) of the Royal College of GPs in Scotland, said the shortfall in family doctors would need to be addressed.

“RCGP Scotland has been clear in calling for urgent and continuing action to be taken to tackle the GP workforce crisis,” he said.

“That will only be achieved by appropriately funding general practice and primary care, so helping to deal with the unsustainable workload challenges being faced by family doctors.”

A spokesperson for the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh said: “We know that the Scottish NHS is under a great deal of pressure and health funding must be targeted and effective.

“We must ensure that we continue to recruit and retain a world class workforce to deliver the best possible patient care. The workforce must continue to be highly skilled, and Scotland’s clinicians must be valued.”

However the Royal Pharmaceutical Society welcomed a commitment to making pharmacy the first point of contact for many seeking medical help.

Chair of the Scottish Pharmacy Board John McAnaw said: “Pharmacists working across the NHS in Scotland can play a key role in delivering the Scottish government’s vision of providing care closer to people’s homes, but to do so we need to see direct investment in our education and training to ensure that there are enough qualified pharmacists available to provide access to safe and effective health care for our patients.”

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