National Health Service Funding

First Minister's Question Time – in the Scottish Parliament at 3:11 pm on 5th May 2010.

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Photo of Mary Scanlon Mary Scanlon Conservative 3:11 pm, 5th May 2010

To ask the First Minister whether the Scottish Government is satisfied that national health service boards can sustain service provision based on the funding allocation received in this year's budget. (S3F-2376)

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond First Minister of Scotland, Leader, Scottish National Party

Despite a cut in the Scottish budget, the NHS has received an increase in funding and we are doing all that we can to protect front-line services. NHS boards received an overall increase of 2.7 per cent in their initial allocations for 2010-11. Funding available to the boards is, of course, supplemented by the efficient government savings that are retained locally for reinvestment in front-line services. The combination of increases and local retention of savings will ensure that these priorities are safeguarded.

Photo of Mary Scanlon Mary Scanlon Conservative

With regard to assisting health services that are under threat due to growing demands, will the First Minister join me—for the first time—in welcoming the commitment made by the Conservatives not to make any in-year adjustments to this year's Scottish budget and to maintain spending on the NHS down south in future years, which will enable the Scottish Government to do exactly the same here if the First Minister shares our commitments and priorities? Will he confirm that his Government will sustain spending on the NHS in Scotland?

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond First Minister of Scotland, Leader, Scottish National Party

I have already done that. I cannot welcome points about next year's budget with the same enthusiasm shown by Mary Scanlon, given the Conservatives' position that cuts will have to implemented twice in the budget the year after. If Mary Scanlon could assist Annabel Goldie in getting a simple reply to the question whether the Conservative party wants to tear up the current funding formula without reference to the Scottish Government or the agreement of the Scottish people, I would be very much in her debt. That simple question is about the nature of the Conservative party's intentions towards Scotland. Is it genuinely concerned for Scottish public services and has it reverted to its anti-Scottish mode?

Photo of Hugh O'Donnell Hugh O'Donnell Liberal Democrat

As the Government has a record of interfering in local health board decisions, will the First Minister ensure that Lanarkshire's out-of-hours service, which is currently under threat, is protected? Will he urge the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing to intervene in the matter?

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond First Minister of Scotland, Leader, Scottish National Party

Health boards implement policy. The member knows our record of protecting out-of-hours services and our commitment to the national health service in Lanarkshire and elsewhere.

Photo of Jackie Baillie Jackie Baillie Labour

Is the First Minister aware that NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde is planning to substitute almost 400 registered nurses with half the number of nursing assistants? The plan appears to be to cut numbers in half and then diminish the skill mix, showing complete disregard for nationally agreed workforce planning tools and, more serious, potentially compromising patient safety. Does the First Minister agree with that?

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond First Minister of Scotland, Leader, Scottish National Party

Patient safety comes first and the board is finding the appropriate skill mix in consultation with the unions. I would have thought that, in the face of the £500 million cuts in the Scottish budget, Jackie Baillie would have welcomed the fact that, thanks to the strength and resolve of Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney, the national health service in Scotland has received such an increase this year. Everyone in Scotland now knows what the Labour Party plans for the future, and the credibility of Jackie Baillie and her Labour Party colleagues asking for public spending increases in Scotland has been fatally undermined by their own Chancellor of the Exchequer's threat of cuts that are deeper and tougher than those of Margaret Thatcher.

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

That concludes questions to the First Minister.