NHS Orkney (Computed Tomography Scanner)

Question Time — Scottish Executive — Health and Wellbeing – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:15 pm on 4th December 2008.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Liam McArthur Liam McArthur Liberal Democrat 2:15 pm, 4th December 2008

To ask the Scottish Executive what discussions it has had with NHS Orkney regarding the benefits of locating a CT scanner in Orkney. (S3O-5135)

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

Within the framework of national priorities, national health service boards are responsible for assessing the need for local services. It is therefore for NHS Orkney to consider the case for a CT scanner, and I am aware that it has been doing so.

Photo of Liam McArthur Liam McArthur Liberal Democrat

Dr Bob Hazlehurst, who is NHS Orkney's stroke lead and a key player in its award-winning stroke telelink service with Aberdeen, firmly believes that having a scanner on Orkney is now essential to the delivery of high-quality care to patients in my constituency. As I am sure the cabinet secretary is aware, Dr Hazlehurst is preparing a cost benefit analysis of such provision for the NHS Orkney board.

Does the cabinet secretary accept that many of the savings from having a locally based scanner would arise from a reduced need for patient transfers to and from Aberdeen and stays at Aberdeen royal infirmary? While such savings would be welcome, does she recognise that they would accrue to NHS Scotland and Scottish Ambulance Service budgets, which would make it impossible for NHS Orkney to factor them into its calculations? Can she reassure my constituents that, before any final decision is taken, a comprehensive cost benefit analysis will be carried out?

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

That was almost a speech.

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

I will try to avoid making a speech in response, Presiding Officer.

I recognise the strength of clinical feeling on Orkney about the benefits that could arise from having a CT scanner on the islands. As the member is aware, in visiting NHS Orkney over the summer to conduct its annual review, I detected directly the strength of feeling. It is for NHS Orkney—as for any other board—to assess the demand for and benefits of any such capital development. That is what NHS Orkney is doing.

As the member is aware, NHS boards receive revenue and capital funding allocations. For additional capital funding allocations to cover projects that cost more than £5 million, island boards are required to prepare a business case and submit it to the Scottish Government for consideration and approval. It is likely that a CT scanner for Orkney would come into that category. The Scottish Government is happy to consider a business case should one be submitted. If a CT scanner were to be introduced into the islands, savings would arise, not least, of course, for NHS Orkney.

Photo of Richard Simpson Richard Simpson Labour

What is the cabinet secretary's response to the Auditor General for Scotland's deficit funding report, which shows NHS Orkney's recurring deficit to be 2.7 per cent this year and predicts that it will be 6.7 per cent next year? Other island boards and NHS Highland also show a deficit. How will she ensure that boards are adequately supported and that they can afford equipment such as CT scanners?

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

You just made it, Dr Simpson.

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

I have three points to make. You will be glad to hear that I will make them briefly, Presiding Officer.

First, I am sure that Richard Simpson meant to but simply forgot to congratulate the NHS on the findings of the Audit Scotland report, which was published today and shows that the NHS is in good financial health and is making good efficiency savings that are being reinvested in front-line patient care.

Secondly, when mentioning the financial position of NHS Orkney, I am sure that Richard Simpson also forgot to point out that, only a few weeks ago, I allocated an additional £500,000 to NHS Orkney to bring it up to parity under the funding formula. That is another important fact that it would have been appropriate for Richard Simpson to mention in his question.

Thirdly, I ask Richard Simpson to reflect on the damage that will be done to NHS Orkney and the whole NHS if Labour's cuts to the health service—indeed, to the entire Scottish budget—go ahead.