Scottish Labour blame Scottish Government for NHS “broken promises”

Nathanael Williams

Labour leader steps up attack on “SNP cuts” to NHS services ahead of Holyrood debate

THE LABOUR PARTY has published a dossier outlining what they call a "list of broken promises" on NHS services by the Scottish Government.

It comes on the same day Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale, met local campaigners in Paisley at the Royal Alexandra hospital to highlight what she called the "effects of SNP cuts."

Speaking ahead of a Holyrood debate on local services, she drew attention to Scottish Government assurances before the 2016 election that there would be no cuts to services and cited the transferral of birth services, downgrading of children's wards and the proposed closure of rehabilitation wards as evidence these promises had been broken.

"Before the election the SNP said Labour candidates were scaremongering for highlighting proposed closures, but now the Nationalists are silent as the axe is set to fall." Kezia Dugdale

Dugdale, said: "Thousands of families depend on the help and support they get from their local hospitals. It would be completely unacceptable for the SNP to shrug their shoulders and look the other way.

"The SNP promised to protect these services; now those promises are set to be broken.

"Before the election the SNP said Labour candidates were scaremongering for highlighting proposed closures, but now the Nationalists are silent as the axe is set to fall.

"We can’t go on like this; it’s not good enough for the SNP to say the NHS is safe when services across the country are facing cuts. That is why Labour would use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to invest in social care, taking the pressure off our hospitals and protecting our local services."

The 2016 survey, found that 90 per cent of patients rated their care as "good" or "excellent". NHS Scotland   

Labour have focused on the NHS maternity services at the Vale of Leven Hospital where the health board confirmed that the birthing facilities will cease to operate despite SNP health, well being and sport minister Shona Robison saying, they would be "maintained and improved."

Official NHS Glasgow board papers show that services at the children’s ward at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, maternity services at Inverclyde Hospital, orthopaedics at Monklands Hospital in Airdrie and the Lightburn Hospital in Glasgow will not remain local as promised before the 2016 elections.

The Scottish Government has argued that these claims of cuts from Labour are not accurate and that it spends more than £12bn a year funding the health service, a figure set to rise to £13bn this year.

The government argues that reductions and transferrals of services are in line with the Efficiency and Productivity Framework for SR10 which outlines where health boards in Scotland can avoid cuts by restructuring where and how they deliver services.

The SR10 framework suggests that the Scottish Government has protected the NHS Scotland budget but due to "demographic pressures" such as population increases and drug and staff costs each health board is required to make a efficiency savings of 3 per cent to break even.

Despite this Scottish Labour has still critiqued the lack of public consultation of plans to move services such as the maternity wards at Inverclyde and the Vale of Leven and suggested that these efficency savings are cuts by another name.

5 things you need to know about the Scottish budget

Labour claimed health boards could be forced to make £1bn worth of efficiency savings in the period up to 2021 and said savings of £258m are being planned by Greater Glasgow and Clyde NHS, and that NHS Lothian is planning to save £382m.

In August of this year patient satisfaction with Scotland's health service continued to rise according to the 2016 inpatient experience survey.

The quality of healthcare experience national indicator has risen to 82.8, which is the highest it has been since the survey began in 2010 representing a rise of 1.1 from the previous survey in 2014.

The 2016 survey found that 90 per cent of patients rated their care as "good" or "excellent" with overall satisfaction with the hospital environment increased from 88 per cent to 89 per cent since the last survey, and satisfaction with hospital staff reaching 91 per cent.

The claims coincide with a report from the Fraser of Allander institute which found that the devolved budget of the Scottish Parliament is set to continue receiving “unprecedented cuts” due to austerity economic policy.

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said: “The UK government's austerity means we are already facing a 10% real terms cut to our budget over the 10 years to 2020 – now the chaos caused by Brexit threatens to make those cuts even harder. In fact Fraser of Allander suggest that following the Brexit vote, real terms cuts to Scotland’s resource budget could increase from £937 million to over £1.6 billion.”

Picture courtesy of Clyde News

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