Health Secretary Jeane Freeman denies care cash crisis despite Edinburgh’s funding black hole

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman
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HEALTH Secretary Jeane Freeman has denied there is a financial crisis over social care despite the funding black hole which threatens cuts in mental health and drug and alcohol services in the Capital.

Lothian Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale challenged Ms Freeman in the Scottish Parliament, telling her Edinburgh’s integration joint board (IJB) - responsible for bringing together health and social care - did not have enough money to care for the city’s vulnerable.

Ms Dugdale’s attack came as new statistics showed 75,515 bed days in Edinburgh hospitals were lost in the past year due to bed-blocking - and 88 per cent were because social care was not available.

And she revealed figures obtained under freedom of information showing almost 2000 people in the city were not receiving the care they needed.

Ms Dugdale said the Edinburgh IJB had already made £11.6m of cuts and still faced a £12.6m black hole. And she quoted board member Mike Ash who said: “We can’t go on pretending we can deliver the services people expect with the money we have.”

Ms Dugdale demanded: “Edinburgh doesn’t have enough money to care for its vulnerable, does it Cabinet Secretary?”

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said there had been a 29 per cent increase over last year in the budget for IJBs compared with a 6.8 per cent cut in real terms in UK Government funding to the Scottish Government between 2010/11 and 2019/20.

“What I require the integration authorities to do is look at how they reform the delivery of their services to get the best value and deliver what patients need.

“The point of integration is to devolve those decisions to IJBs who should be best placed to determine what their local population needs with that significant additional funding from this government.”

But Ms Dugdale said: “Jeane Freeman needs to lift her head from the spreadsheet and look at what is happening in the real world. In order to balance its books, Edinburgh is considering cutting mental health services and slashing it drug and alcohol partnership funding.

“On top of that, an FoI from my office shows there are 160 people in the city right now getting incomplete care packages, over 600 people waiting for a package to start and a whopping 1200 people waiting to be assessed.”

Lothian Tory MSP Miles Briggs asked Ms Freeman what the SNP planned to do about “what is a growing financial crisis across our IJBs”.

But she told him: “I do not accept that there is a financial crisis.”

Mr Briggs said later: “How out of touch can this government actually be with reality and the crisis facing social care services across the Capital?”