Health boards keep Holyrood in dark on NHS value for money
HEALTH boards are not providing enough information about their spending to allow Holyrood to scrutinise whether they are providing value for money, a committee has warned.
• Health boards accused of not giving clarity to government on spending
• “Quality and clarity of information” provided by health boards should be improved
The Scottish Parliament’s Health Committee said there was a lack of clarity on how Scotland’s 14 boards spend their share of the £11 billion NHS budget.
Convenor Duncan McNeil MSP said: “Health rightly receives one of the biggest allocations of the Scottish Government’s budget. The role of the Scottish Parliament is to provide scrutiny to ensure that public money is spent wisely.
“Whilst our 14 health boards now provide MSPs with some information on how they spend their budgets, the issue we now face is the quality and clarity of that information.
“As a result, the committee has been unable to answer fundamental questions about how NHS boards spend their budgets – questions that relate to the quality, efficiency and planning of NHS services.”
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said the call to improve clarity is “entirely justified”, and wants to see “proper scrutiny” of how money is spent.
Theresa Fyffe, director of RCN Scotland said: “Everybody who cares about our NHS needs to engage in a proper debate on how the budget available can be spent on services fit for the future and this is only possible if we know what money is currently being spent on and what plans health boards have for the future. Indeed, lack of clear financial information means there is no way to verify that ‘efficiency savings’ being made by Scotland’s health boards are not actually cuts to services by another name.”
Ms Fyffe said the public could only support NHS decisions if they are presented with a “clear picture of the pressures that the health service is under and the choices it faces”.
In a report published today, the committee said NHS savings were important but the quality and consistency of services must be maintained.
It has set out plans to further scrutinise whether this is being achieved by boards and will also assess the balance between additional funding for boards and cost pressures on the whole healthcare system.
The committee welcomed assurances from Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon that further information on boards’ spending would be forthcoming.
Deputy convenor Bob Doris MSP said: “This will be very important at a time of public sector funding restraint and in light of major issues such as our changing demography.
“Such factors will clearly have an impact on how the NHS in Scotland delivers its service and indeed on health spending in the future.”
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Thursday 23 May 2013
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