National Health Service (Additional Support)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 23rd December 2020.

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Photo of Jamie Halcro Johnston Jamie Halcro Johnston Conservative

3. To ask the Scottish Government what additional support the NHS will require over the first quarter of 2021. (S5O-04883)

Photo of Jeane Freeman Jeane Freeman Scottish National Party

We have, so far, provided £1.1 million of additional funding to support the NHS in its response, and, as I have said previously, further funding will be allocated in January. Work is now under way with boards and our partners in social care to identify in greater detail exactly what is required from January onwards. Once we have concluded that work, we will make that detail clear to members and it will be covered in the statement that Kate Forbes will make later in January.

Photo of Jamie Halcro Johnston Jamie Halcro Johnston Conservative

The attention of many in the national health service is, understandably, focused on the coronavirus pandemic and the efforts to protect communities across Scotland. However, as is usual at this time of year, the routine work of the health service will also be affected by seasonal issues, and increased pressure will be put on local services and health staff.

What concerns does the cabinet secretary have about the impact of both the pandemic and normal winter issues on locally delivered routine health services over the next three months? I am thinking, in particular, of those in remote and rural areas, of which there are many in my region. What further impact may routine services face as a result of any—very welcome—increased roll-out of new coronavirus vaccines over that period, and how can the Scottish Government provide additional support to minimise that impact?

Photo of Jeane Freeman Jeane Freeman Scottish National Party

That is a detailed question that deserves a detailed answer, so I give a commitment that I will write to Mr Halcro Johnston later with more information. I would point him now to two things: our NHS winter preparedness plan and, for the first time ever, our equal plan for social care, which seeks to enable us to maintain services and deal with—as far as we can—the backlog in non-Covid health and social care support and services, both of which have additional resources attached to them.

As I have said many times, there is always a trade-off. The more that we—individually and collectively—suppress the virus, the more our NHS is able to deal with non-Covid cases. Where we are not successful in doing that, pressure is put on our services to deal with Covid cases in both primary and secondary care. That inevitably reduces the degree to which we can cope with non-Covid healthcare, which is itself vitally important. As I said, I will write to the member with more detail.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

I ask members not to slip in multiple questions, because they will—quite rightly—not get a specific answer. I call Alasdair Allan to ask question 4. I hope that he has learned a lesson from that. I am sure that he has.