In recent day, much has been made of how much the SNP care about the NHS in Scotland. This is an article from 2010 when Sturgeon was health minister.
ALMOST 4000 NHS jobs will be axed this year, Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs today.
The announcement came as the Government published workforce projections for health boards across Scotland which set out the impact of the spending cuts on jobs.
The axed jobs include more than 1500 nursing and midwifery posts.
Ms Sturgeon insisted patient care will not be affected by the cuts and assured staff there will be no compulsory redundancies.
But Labour, launching a campaign to defend NHS jobs, said the job losses will affect patient care.
Ms Sturgeon said: “I have made it clear to boards that staff efficiencies must not compromise the quality of care.
“They have a responsibility to demonstrate that such efficiencies can be achieved by service redesign, by advances like increasing daycare rates and by greater productivity.”
A national scrutiny group is to be set up, which will include unions and officials from the NHS and Government to ensure patient care does not suffer, Miss Sturgeon said.
She also told MSPs today that more staff will be working in the NHS at the election next May than when the SNP came to power in 2007.
A total of 3790 jobs are expected to go in the NHS across Scotland this year, including 1523 nursing and midwifery posts.
The numbers are “not set in stone” and remain subject to discussion with unions, Miss Sturgeon said.
The NHS employs about 135,000 people across Scotland. The reduction in posts will come by not replacing people who retire or leave.
The Tory/Lib Dem Government at Westminster has set out £6billion of spending cuts this year, with more expected to follow.
Many of the job losses announced today have already been made public, such as 1250 in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and 730 in NHS Lothian.
Labour health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said the SNP had campaigned at the recent election on a platform of More Nats, Less Cuts.
“It didn’t really work for them then and I have to say it sounds pretty hollow now,” Ms Baillie said.
Labour launched a campaign today entitled More Nats, Fewer Nurses, aimed at defending NHS jobs.
“The hypocrisy of claiming on the one hand to protect frontline services but on the other hand presiding over the worst cuts since the advent of devolution is quite breathtaking and also hugely disappointing,” Ms Baillie said.
Doctors, nurses, midwives and physiotherapists are among those whose posts will be axed, she went on.
“These are just some of the cuts proposed and all of these are involved in the delivery of frontline services.”
The Scottish Budget is rising by almost £1billion this year, Ms Baillie added.
But she said the £264million increase in the health budget represents a real-terms cut of 0.4 per cent, according to Scottish Parliament officials.
She said a “group of consultants” from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde have told her that the impact on patient care will be “drastic”.
The Glasgow health board is also facing a 20 per cent cut in the number of beds, according to Ms Baillie, although this has been officially denied.
Tory health spokesman Murdo Fraser said the “fact of the matter” is that health spending has increased.
And if there were cuts, they were caused by Labour’s “chronic mismanagement” of the public purse.
“The Labour party position now seems to be that there’s not enough money being spent on the NHS. The fact of the matter is, as Nicola Sturgeon pointed out, NHS spending in Scotland has risen, as it has in previous years,” he went on.
“If there were cuts to the Scottish Budget, the responsibility for these would rest fairly and squarely and solely at the door of the Labour party, who in government were responsible for the most chronic mismanagement of the public finances in our country’s history,” Mr Fraser claimed.
“Any cuts coming to the Scottish Budget are Labour cuts, not Tory cuts or SNP cuts or even Lib Dem cuts.”
It is possible for the NHS to make “efficiency savings” without damaging services to patients – switching from brand name drugs to generic ones meant six health boards had saved more than £20million a year, he told MSPs.
“There are savings to be made and we reject the nonsense this will automatically have an impact on patient care.”
When in power, Labour had proposed cuts in services, he added, recalling that the previous Executive planned to close accident and emergency units at both Monklands and Ayr hospitals.
“These were real frontline service cuts proposed by Labour.”
According to Lib Dem health spokesman Ross Finnie, many health boards need to make millions of pounds worth of “savings” to “break even”, while providing the same level of care.
He said Greater Glasgow and Clyde needs to make cuts of £62million, Forth Valley must cut £26.5million and NHS Lothian needs to cut £31million.
“We are looking at a serious position where those health boards all have to make savings just to cover where we are, never mind any projected future cuts that may be in the pipeline,” Mr Finnie said.
And health boards not filling posts when staff leave or retire can lead to “huge inefficiencies”.
He added: “If someone leaves and you don’t fill the post, is that a post you actually need? Or is that a post you don’t need but you simply don’t fill it?
“Non-filling of posts and voluntary redundancy itself can result in people leaving whose skill you actually need.”