Professor Donaldson was correct to be sceptical about the announcement by the Scottish Government that £100m will be spent over the next three years to deal with the crisis in elderly care in yesterday’s Herald.
Scotland has had three health minsters in three years. In 2012 the number of trainee nurses was cut significantly. In 2013 the RCN warned of intolerable stress levels in the Scottish NHS and that health services are only managing to meet demand because of nurses willing to go the extra mile for free. In 2014 we learned from the IFS that the Scottish Government had cut real terms spending on the health by 1.2%, whilst the UK Government had increased spending by 4.4%. At the turn of the year, we learned that 1,200 NHS beds had been cut in two years.
Of the £100m announced by Ms Robison, only one third is new money – derived from Barnett consequentials. The additional funding will come from existing health budgets over the next two years.
The implicit question underlying the move is how much of the £100m will be spent on quietly moving elderly care from the public to the private sector?