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Figures from the health board show gas costs tripling from £4,070,680 in 2021/22 to £12,632,249 in 2022/23.
With a staff nurse paid around £30,000 a year and employment costs, including pension National Insurance, adding about another £15,000, the £8.5 million increase in the bill would be enough to pay for around 190 nurses.
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NHS Lothian figures also show electricity costs rising by £428,008 from £10,333,782 in 2021/22 to £10,761,790 in 2022/23. And water costs will go up from £1,962,252 to £2,048,591, an increase of £86,339.
Mr Briggs, said: “The rise in gas prices nationally and globally is affecting everyone, which includes NHS Lothian. The health board is already under severe financial pressure due to years of neglect by SNP ministers followed by the pandemic.
“NHS Lothian cannot afford to divert funds from essential frontline services.”
He said purchasing of energy was centralised in NHS Scotland. “Historically they have made savings by all health boards buying energy together but in the current climate that’s obviously not having the desired impact. There is cross-party concern about the impact this is going to have on the most under-funded health board in Scotland."
He said there never seemed to be any acknowledgement from the government that Lothian was seeing the biggest increase in population, but also getting the worst funding settlement.
"All these costs and pressures are piling up on the health board and it will impact inevitably on the services they can afford to deliver.
“The government is going to have to provide additional support or budgets are going to be squeezed within the health service to meet this and instead of money being spent on staffing and services it will be spent on energy.
“There is talk about the environmental agenda and how future buildings might be far more energy efficient, but we’re not there at the moment.
“I have written to the Scottish Government to ask what support will be made available to NHS Lothian to help with the increase in gas prices."