National Health Service

Question Time — Scottish Executive — General Questions – in the Scottish Parliament at 11:41 am on 14th June 2007.

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Photo of Bill Butler Bill Butler Labour 11:41 am, 14th June 2007

To ask the Scottish Executive what its vision is for the national health service in Scotland. (S3O-216)

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

I deprecate any attempts to overlook Bill Butler.

Our vision is of an NHS that supports and sustains healthy lifestyles, particularly in our most disadvantaged communities, and which delivers care that is faster, more flexible and closer to home. We supported the Kerr report at the time of its launch and we continue to support the principles that were set out in it. By the end of the year, we will publish an action plan that will demonstrate how we intend to take forward those principles and will provide a clear timetable for action over the next few years.

Photo of Bill Butler Bill Butler Labour

I welcome the cabinet secretary to her post and hope that the Executive's vision includes the democratisation of health boards.

However, I turn to another issue. In opposition, Ms Sturgeon said:

"The Scottish Executive is considering diverting cash from some of the more affluent parts of Scotland to help Glasgow back to health ... I am 100% behind that. It'll cause uproar in some other Scots towns and cities, for sure, but that's tough."

In opposition, her Cabinet colleague Richard Lochhead said:

"Grampian's pockets of deprivation ... indicate just as great a need for NHS funds as Glasgow's deprivation levels."

Now that the Scottish National Party is in government, who is correct—Nicola Sturgeon or Richard Lochhead?

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

Bill Butler knows from our manifesto that we strongly favour elected health boards and I look forward to working constructively with him on that issue.

As the member might be aware, a review of resource allocation in the health service is continuing and I will consider carefully its outcome. It is a priority of this Scottish Government to tackle health inequalities. I pay tribute to the previous Administration for much of the work that it did in improving health across the population but, as health has improved across the population, health inequalities have grown. It is a priority of our Government to close that gap and I look forward to receiving support from all parties as we try to do so.