Rising cost of NHS Scotland revealed

Written by Tom Freeman on 20 November 2018 in News

NHS spending has increased above the rate of inflation for several consecutive years, report shows

Hospital - Peter Byrne/PA 

The cost of Scotland’s health service has risen above the rate of inflation in the last five years, new figures from NHS stats body ISD Scotland has revealed.

The annual ‘Scottish Health Service Costs’ report showed details of how much the Scottish Government has spent on the NHS and how that money is distributed.

Total operating costs rose by one per cent in real terms in the last year, with spending in hospitals rising 0.1 per cent and a rise of 4.8 per cent in the community sector in real terms.

Within that, spending on primary care services such as GPs, pharmacy, dental and ophthalmic services saw a real terms cut of 0.4 per cent compared to 2016/17.

Almost half of the total spend is on staff, it said.

In cash terms, expenditure on the NHS has risen from £10.44bn in 2013/14 to £12.02bn in 2017/18.  

A spokesman for the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh said the figures showed the need for more funding for health.

“A range of factors may explain this increase, including people living for longer with multiple health conditions, costs associated with new drugs and treatments, funding to facilitate the integration of health and social care, and increasing staff costs,” he said.

“For the NHS to survive financially, a proper funding plan must be in place. We look forward to The Scottish Government’s draft budget announcement in December, where we expect that the Finance Secretary will provide detail in this regard for 2019/20.”

The Scottish Conservatives highlighted the fact the report showed a consistent drop in hospital beds at a time when hospitals were struggling to bring down cases of ‘bed-blocking’ – when a patient is delayed in being discharged from hospital.

Shadow health secretary Miles Briggs said: “The SNP will no doubt argue that the way people are being cared for is changing, and that involves moving people out of hospital and back into the community.

“And while that may be partly true, it doesn’t account for an increasing and ageing population which is going to place more pressure on the NHS.

“That’s why the number of beds should be going up – not reducing.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton called for more funding for GPs.

“The SNP's mismanagement has brought GP surgeries to crisis point,” he said. 

“A quarter of practices now have vacancies, up from just nine per cent in five years. I have uncovered posts that have been vacant for two years and doctors have warned they are under pressure like never before.”

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