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Protecting Scotland’s NHS
English reforms could cost Scotland £100 million a year.
Independence is the best way to protect Scotland’s NHS and do more to tackle the scandal of health inequalities, Alex Neil said.
The Cabinet Secretary for Health was speaking during a visit to the site of the new South Glasgow Hospital, where he announced the Scottish Government has approved a new £20 million administration complex for the flagship project.
Mr Neil said that, as control of health policy is already devolved, the substantial gains made in Scotland’s NHS would be both protected and built on under independence.
However, the Cabinet Secretary has also warned about the potential dangers to public funding of sticking with the current constitutional arrangements.
In a letter to the Health Committee, Mr Neil highlighted that the UK Government’s own assessment of the impact of their reforms to NHS England could amount to a reduction in UK health spending of more than £1 billion a year.
Under the current funding system, that could see Scotland lose out on £100 million every year to spend on public services like health.
Mr Neil said:
“We’re fortunate that the running of the NHS in Scotland is already independent from Westminster, and has followed a very different path to the health service in England since devolution.
“Indeed, the NHS is one of Scotland’s greatest success stories, and I know we are all immensely proud of the care it delivers, day in, day out, to thousands of people right across Scotland.
“The superb, flagship project to build a new South Glasgow hospital is apt demonstration of this Government’s commitment and investment in Scotland’s NHS.
“We already have some of the safest hospitals in the world thanks to our Patient Safety Programme – praised by Don Berwick, adviser to President Obama. Waiting times are amongst the lowest ever recorded, and patients in Scotland benefit from free eye tests, free prescriptions and free personal care.
“As Scotland’s Future makes clear, all these gains would be protected under independence. In an independent Scotland we will continue to provide high-quality, world leading health and social care to the Scottish people in a way that reflects the founding principles of our NHS. A health service in public hands, free at the point of need.
“Everyone in Scotland should be reassured that this Government has no intention of following the path of privatisation and so-called reforms being pursued by the UK Government in England, which I believe threaten the very foundations on which the NHS was built.
“Independence will allow us to do more to tackle the scandal that is health inequality. We’re already acting within the powers available to us – for example through a range of measures to tackle Scotland’s difficult relationship with alcohol and regulate tobacco.
“But it’s shameful that children born in the poorest parts of our country can still expect to live 11 years less than those in wealthiest areas. Life expectancy should not be decided on where you are born – independence gives us the levers and opportunity to end generations of failure on this issue from Westminster.”
Notes to editors
The Scottish Government has published Scotland’s Future and Scotland’s Health – a booklet focusing on health and independence.
In his letter to the Health Committee, Mr Neil says:
“The UK Government Department of Health modelled the savings it would seek from health spending through the Health and Social Care Bill's impact assessment. It sets out that in 2014/15, and in each following year up to 2019/20, that they projected savings of £1,068 million per annum. If these monies were to be removed from health spend and not otherwise used in another area which did have Barnett consequentials this could see the Scottish budget reduced by over £100 million per annum.
“While here in Scotland we have policy control over health allowing us to plot a different course which ensures the NHS in Scotland remains in public hands, it is clear that so long as our finances are set by the UK Government they can always be impacted by their policy choices.”
- The Scottish Government has today approved £20 million for a new administration complex for the New South Glasgow Hospital Campus.
The new office block will provide some 1,200 workspaces for clinical and administrative staff transferring to the new campus from the Western Infirmary, Victoria Infirmary, parts of the existing Southern General and Yorkhill Hospital which will all close following the transfer of services to the New South Glasgow Hospitals campus in 2015.
The construction of the New South Glasgow Campus has been managed so efficiently that the entire cost of the new office block is being met from the original project budget of £842 million.
The original project included contingency monies that were set aside to allow for any slippage due to weather delays and any other unforeseen issues. However due to the highly effective and efficient management of construction project these monies have not been needed and can therefore be reinvested.
The new accommodation will provide consultants, other clinical and administration staff with:
A modern high-tech 21 century office which is fit-for-purpose with access to natural day light
Excellent ability to co-locate clinical and speciality teams
Access to quiet space for discussions with colleagues and patients and their families, meeting rooms and social interaction areas.
An eco-efficient facility which will contribute to NHSGGC meeting a national HEAT target for reducing carbon emissions.