Greater Glasgow NHS Board (Funding)

Question Time — Scottish Executive – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:30 pm on 26th June 2003.

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Photo of Robert Brown Robert Brown Liberal Democrat 2:30 pm, 26th June 2003

To ask the Scottish Executive what discussions it has had with Greater Glasgow NHS Board regarding any shortfall in funding and budget cuts. (S2O-303)

Photo of Malcolm Chisholm Malcolm Chisholm Labour

The Executive has regular discussions with all NHS boards on a wide range of issues, including financial issues. The most recent discussion with Greater Glasgow NHS Board took place at the annual accountability review on Wednesday 25 June.

Photo of Robert Brown Robert Brown Liberal Democrat

The minister will be aware of the reported funding reduction in the budget for Greater Glasgow NHS Board. The board has restricted the supply of beta interferon for new patients and attributes its action to that shortfall. Can the minister give an assurance that both newly diagnosed and existing sufferers of multiple sclerosis who live in the health board's area and who require the drug will get access to it in line with the Scottish Executive's policies?

Photo of Malcolm Chisholm Malcolm Chisholm Labour

I remind members that Greater Glasgow NHS Board's uplift next year will be 7.4 per cent, which is high by any historical standards. However, Robert Brown is right to say that a small adjustment had to be made because of a fall in population.

There is a risk-sharing scheme for beta interferon and the Scottish Executive has issued guidelines on the drug. Clearly, Greater Glasgow NHS Board must implement those guidelines. The issue was raised with the board, which assured us that patients will continue to be assessed and prescribed beta interferon where that is clinically appropriate.

Photo of Sandra White Sandra White Scottish National Party

I congratulate the minister on using his muscle to order Greater Glasgow NHS Board to drop its ban on beta interferon for MS sufferers. When will action be taken by the board to reinstate such drug treatment and will it involve all 240 MS sufferers in Glasgow? At the moment, only 71 patients are involved. Can the minister give an assurance that that will happen as soon as possible?

Photo of Malcolm Chisholm Malcolm Chisholm Labour

The board has already given an assurance that patients will continue to be assessed. The drug is subject to the clinical guidelines. Not all patients with MS will benefit from beta interferon, so assessment must take place. However, those who will benefit will be prescribed the drug. That is precisely what will happen in Glasgow as elsewhere.