The NHS in Scotland will receive £10 million to help cope with the “particular pressures” of winter, the Health Secretary has announced.
Jeane Freeman said the money, which is being awarded to regional health boards across the country as well as NHS 24 and the Scottish Ambulance Service, would help to ensure they were “well prepared”.
The cash matches the £10m the Scottish Government awarded to the NHS last winter and comes on top of £6.3m spending on unscheduled care.
The money will aim to ensure appropriate levels of staff are on duty across the NHS, so patients are cared for at the right place at the right time.
In addition, the funding will go towards ensuring those who are well enough to leave hospital can be discharged at weekends and over the holidays.
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Scotland’s largest health board, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, will receive the biggest award, amounting to almost £2.14m.
NHS chiefs in Lothian are in line to receive more than £1.4m.
The two NHS boards covering Orkney and Shetland will receive £46,000 and £47,000 respectively, while the Scottish Ambulance Service and NHS 24 will both get £200,000.
Ms Freeman said: “Winter creates particular pressures on our health and social care system, so it’s important that we are well prepared.
“Our £10m investment will support boards as well as health and social care to put appropriate steps in place, particularly to make sure people are discharged in a timely way when it’s safe to do so, and that the right staff are in place throughout the system.
“However, this requires more than just investment. We need strong leadership and collaborative working across the whole system to ensure people are getting the right help in the right place.
"We are already seeing examples of integration making a difference and we are focused on increasing the pace of this across Scotland.”
Virulent strains of winter flu
However, the investment follows warnings that children’s flu vaccines may not reach Scotland before winter due to the manufacturer’s testing schedule.
The inoculations, which are delivered using a nasal spray to youngsters aged between two to five, were due to arrive next month.
But the manufacturer, AstraZeneca, announced last month that tests would have to be repeated on some batches of the vaccine.
The medication is procured by Public Health England before being transport to Scotland and other parts of the UK.
School vaccine visits have been rescheduled in efforts to combat the delay.
Last year the vaccination programme run into difficulties across Scotland.
In October last year, officials from Community Pharmacy Scotland said that private pharmacies had run out of the standard flu vaccine for people aged 65 to 74.
Virulent strains of winter flu have been previously blamed for a rise in deaths after winter 2017 saw the number of flu-linked deaths treble to 331.
The 2017/18 period in Scotland saw the highest number of deaths recorded since the winter of 1999/2000.
However, results were far more positive last winter, with a 13 per cent drop in deaths north of the Border and a 57 per cent seasonal decrease in additional deaths compared with the previous year.