Budget cuts for Scottish health service watchdog

The SNP once again showing absolute contempt for the Scottish public.

SCOTLAND’S NHS healthcare watchdog has had its budget slashed only days after details emerged of the worst hospital neglect scandal in British history.

Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) – the internal body responsible for reviewing NHS standards north of the Border – has had almost £700,000 in funding withdrawn.It follows last week’s publication of a damning report into the deaths of around 1,200 people at Stafford Hospital between 2005 and 2009.

The budget cuts, revealed by the Scottish Government yesterday, have sparked fears that similarly serious issues in Scotland could be missed in the future.

We can’t afford to be cutting anything just now, never mind to Healthcare Improvement Scotland

Margaret Watt of the Scottish Patients Association

Announcing his plans for spending in 2013-14, Health Secretary Alex Neil said that frontline health boards would receive a 3.3 per cent boost.However, further analysis of the figures revealed that HIS will see its budget slashed by 4.2 per cent, to £15.9million.

The watchdog has taken the lead in a number of high-profile investigations in recent years, including probes into the NHS Ayrshire and Arran whistleblowing scandal as well as failings in elderly and vulnerable care at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and Ninewells Hospital in Dundee.

Meanwhile, Health Scotland – which deals with preventative initiatives such as advertising campaigns – will also see its budget reduced by 4.2 per cent.

Other “special” boards to receive a below inflation increase – or a real terms cut in funding – include the Scottish Ambulance Service, NHS 24 and the National Waiting Times Centre.

Margaret Watt, of the Scottish Patients Association, said: “We can’t afford to be cutting anything just now, never mind to Healthcare Improvement Scotland. This is very concerning, we should be keeping our eye on the ball and not becoming complacent.

“I really do hope that we don’t have anything similar to the Stafford case in Scotland, because I hope we are smarter than that. But the likes of Healthcare Improvement Scotland is an absolutely vital operation of the NHS and we simply shouldn’t be cutting back on it.”

She added: “These cuts are folly and totally unacceptable.” The budget plans also include more than £525million in capital spending on NHS buildings and equipment, the bulk of it going to NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde for the new Southern General hospital.

All of Scotland’s 14 health boards will be asked to make efficiency savings of at least three per cent.

Their annual revenue budgets will be increased by between 2.8 per cent, just above inflation, to 4.6 per cent.

A  Scottish Labour spokesman said: “Given the increasing number of shocking incidents arising from the SNP’s mismanagement of the NHS, from elderly patients left for hours on trolleys to cancer patients unable to access treatment, this is nothing more than a sticking plaster for our health service.”

Scottish Tory health spokesman Jackson Carlaw added: “The SNP are able to ensure health spending is going up thanks to the UK Government’s decision to prioritise the NHS. However, concerns remain how that money is being spent in Scotland, with more than 2,000 fewer nurses on the frontline.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said the cuts to the special boards would be used to support “vital future developments, such as the rare conditions medicine fund and an extended vaccines programme”.

She added: “We are committed to protecting spending on health, and this budget reflects a funding increase of 3.3 per cent for territorial health boards across Scotland – helping to deliver improved front line health services for the people of Scotland.”

http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/376795/Budget-cuts-for-Scottish-health-service-watchdog

The SNP don’t care about NHS Scotland. Cuts and Privatisation come before patients.

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