Scottish Budget should boost NHS Lothian funding, say Tories

FINANCE Secretary Derek Mackay is being urged to use his Budget tomorrow to help sort the finances of crisis-hit NHS Lothian.

Tuesday, 11th December 2018, 5:00 am
A hospital ward. Pic: PA

Conservatives say he must allocate the full amount which Scotland receives from Westminster under the Barnett formula as a result of health spending in England to support the NHS north of the border.

And Tory health spokesman Miles Briggs said that should include boosting Lothian’s share of health cash.

NHS Lothian is facing a £43.1 million “black hole” in its finances, according to paper presented to its board last week.

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And Mr Briggs said under the current funding formula NHS Lothian currently receives less per head than other health boards.

He said: “Edinburgh and the Lothians are seeing the fastest growing population at twice that of the Scottish rate. But last year saw NHS Lothian receive £11 million less to deliver health care services for patients than in other parts of Scotland.

“Thanks to the UK Conservative government over the next five years we will see a £20 billion boost for the NHS across the UK – with an extra £2bn in health spending dedicated for Scotland’s NHS by 2022.

“SNP ministers must use the Scottish Government budget and the record NHS funding coming from the UK to finally end the underfunding of NHS Lothian.

“Derek MacKay’s budget on Wednesday will show whether or not they are willing to act or if the SNP Scottish 
Government will continue to short change NHS Lothian.”

The current formula used to distribute cash among health boards – known as NRAC, after the NHS Resource Allocation Committee – was introduced a decade ago and phased in to avoid sudden changes in funding. But several health boards still receive less than their NRAC target.

Under NRAC, Lothian was supposed to receive 14.8 per cent of the cash paid to health boards by the government in 2018/19 or £1317.5m but in fact it was allocated £1306.4m – a shortfall of £11.1m.

The government has said the gap between actual allocation and NRAC target is less then one per cent in Lothian and all the boards affected.

Mr Briggs said it still meant Lothian was receiving 90p for every £1 received by Glasgow.

He said: “Sadly we all know the huge pressures which NHS Lothian currently faces with the social care crisis impacting and creating a situation where NHS Lothian now has the highest level of delayed discharge of patients anywhere in Scotland.

“The government is also well aware of the problems NHS Lothian faces and yet it is still underfunding it.”

As well as a projected overspend of £400,000 at the end of this financial year and the warning of a £43.1m funding gap for next year, NHS Lothian board papers last week also revealed that a bid for an extra £32m to help tackle missed waiting time targets was refused by the Scottish Government.