Time for SNP to be fair about funding NHS Lothian – Miles Briggs

NHS Lothian is the lowest-funded health board in Scotland per head of population, writes Miles Briggs.

Friday, 13th December 2019, 11:40 am
Jeane Freeman is just the latest in a long line of SNP Health Secretaries. Picture: Michael Gillen

Evening News readers will be aware that I have consistently highlighted the underfunding of NHS Lothian by SNP ministers.

As Health Secretaries have come and gone – from Nicola Sturgeon to Alex Neil, Shona Robison, and now Jeane Freeman – each has been content to stand by and allow NHS Lothian to remain the lowest-funded NHS board per head in Scotland, receiving less money per person to deliver health care services, than patients in other parts of Scotland.

Under the controversial NHS Resource Allocation Committee (NRAC), last year NHS Lothian received £11 million less than it should have under this approach. I know from conversations with NHS Lothian that this is impacting on decisions and the ability to meet the health needs of communities across Lothian. That has to change and we need to see SNP ministers deliver fairness – I’m not looking for preferential treatment for NHS Lothian, just our fair share of NHS resources.

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Miles Briggs is a Scottish Conservative MSP for Lothian region

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At a UK Government level, Scottish Conservative MPs have delivered record levels of funding for our ­Scottish NHS. However, over the last 12 years SNP ministers have short-changed NHS boards across Scotland. It’s time for that to end and for SNP ministers to end the underfunding of NHS Lothian.

That’s why I’m calling on the SNP Government to use upcoming budget announcements to sort this disparity out for good. I have written to SNP Finance Secretary Derek McKay to outline our position and ask what plans the SNP have to finally end the underfunding of NHS Lothian. So when SNP minsters set the Scottish Budget, I’ll be watching.

Let’s tackle loneliness in 2020

I was again very concerned to see statistics regarding Edinburgh and Lothian and loneliness. According to Age Scotland, 100,000 older people in Scotland feel lonely most or all of the time and 200,000 will go at least half a week without a phone call or visit from anyone.

Further, it was reported that almost 110,000 older people will be sitting down to dinner alone on Christmas Day this year. Age Scotland were right to call it Scotland’s loneliness epidemic.

There is obviously a lot of good work being undertaken in communities to try to turn the situation around. Last week I visited the LifeCare Centre in Stockbridge. The centre is at the heart of the community, providing support for carers and so much more with a great community café and day clubs such as the popular St Bernard’s dementia club and The Dean social club.

Across Edinburgh we have some great local projects trying to make a difference and help tackle the issue. The Eric Liddell Centre has been helping older people in the capital dealing with loneliness and ­isolation, thanks to a new initiative. The South West Villages project works to strengthen services for older people by identifying ways to increase social interaction and reduce the chances of becoming isolated in the first place.

We have never been more globally connected, but more locally disconnected. Let’s make 2020 the year that we actually work together to tackle loneliness and social isolation to help connect people in every community.

Miles Briggs is a Scottish Conservative MSP for Lothian region.