Health budget to rise by £400m

Written by Tom Freeman on 15 December 2017 in News

BMA warns biggest ever health budget will still not meet demand

Hospital - PA

Spending on Scotland’s health and care services is to increase by £400m, according to the 2018/19 draft budget.

The rise will bring the total budget of the health portfolio to £13.1bn, maintaining it as the biggest spend of the Scottish Government.

Funds for regional health boards are to increase by 2.2 per cent in real terms, according to Finance Secretary Derek Mackay.

Outlining his draft budget to MSPs, Mackay also pledged that £110m of the total would be allocated to primary care, with £17m for mental health services.

There will also be a three percent increase in pay for public sector workers earning £30,000 or less and a two per cent rise for those earning more, which ends the long-standing public sector pay cap.

“Our decision to lift the pay cap will benefit thousands of nurses and other healthcare staff,” Mackay told MSPs.

“I know that I speak for everyone in the chamber when I thank our NHS staff for the work that they do in caring for the people of Scotland.”

Doctor’s union the British Medical Association welcomed the extra funding but warned it would not keep up with demands on the NHS.

Chair of BMA Scotland Dr Peter Bennie said: “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 added doctors will still receive a real-terms pay cut under the proposals.

The Royal College of Nursing welcomed the pay offer, noting Mackay would continue to respect the NHS Pay Review Body Process which operates across the UK.

Scotland Director Theresa Fyffe said: “The Scottish Government has clearly listened to nursing staff who’ve been campaigning for fair pay. Today’s announcement will go some way to addressing the years of pay restraint.

“However, we have yet to see the detail on how this pay award will be funded. We have been clear that the NHS cannot be expected to fund this from existing budgets.”

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