Scottish health boards are being asked to make up to £450m in savings over the next two years, a secret document leaked by a whistleblower shows
The SNP Government is planning almost half a billion pounds worth of cutbacks from Scotland’s NHS according to a controversial leaked document.
A report understood to have been distributed to Scotland’s health boards said that over the next two years up to £450m of additional “savings” must be found.
The secret document also warns that health care executives need to “urgently” establish priorities and says “significant changes” must be rapidly implemented.
Johann Lamont, Scottish Labour leader, said the revelations showed the SNP has a “secret agenda” to cut health care spending after the referendum.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said the document was part of “regular discussions” among health care leaders, adding that the SNP administration was “protecting and increasing” Scotland’s NHS budget.
The dossier, obtained and distributed by the Labour Party, was leaked by an unnamed whistleblower concerned with how the SNP was portraying the NHS in the referendum campaign.
The anonymous source said there were “major problems” with Scotland’s NHS and claimed Yes camp suggestions the UK Government is to blame were “not true”.
It is understood the leaked paper was co-written by the Health Board Finance Directors and the Financial Director for Health Directorate in Scottish Government.
The document warned that “baseline funding increases” and “financial cost pressures” had created “significant challenges” for Scottish health boards.
A total of between £400m and £450m of savings in addition to those currently being implemented is needed to hit targets, according to the document.
The savings needed were described as “significant” and larger than previous years, with the paper demanding “urgent and collaborative action”.
The revelations come with the Yes campaign repeatedly claiming that the only way to protect the NHS from major cuts is to vote for independence on Thursday.
The claims have infuriated the pro-UK camp, which has branded the warnings the biggest lie of the referendum campaign.
While the SNP says any cut to the English health budget would hit the amount of money given to Scotland, control of the NHS is totally controlled by Holyrood. Furthermore, no Westminster party proposes reducing health care spending.
Johann Lamont, Scottish Labour Leader, said: “These papers show that the SNP have a secret agenda to cut health spending after the referendum. Alex Salmond was elected on a manifesto to protect health spending and now he is planning cuts but has decided not to tell anyone until after Thursday’s vote.
“The SNP lied about NHS privatisation. They lied when they said they didn’t have the powers to protect the NHS from cuts. Now they are deceiving the people of Scotland about plans to cut health spending after polling day. Its clear that the SNP cannot be trusted with our NHS.”
Alex Neil, Scotland’s health minister, said: “We’ve protected Scotland’s NHS from the Tories cuts, and with independence we can ensure that it is never again under threat from Westminster’s dangerous obsession with austerity.
He added: ““To ensure we can continue to develop the NHS it’s important that NHS boards regularly discuss their future plans to inform budget discussions with Scottish Government officials, and to identify how we will continue to deliver quality care and treatment.”