From the archive: Bill for free healthcare to soar

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The Scotsman, 29 April 2008

THE cost of Scotland’s flagship policy of free care for the elderly will soar more than threefold to £813 million a year by 2031, a new report has revealed.

A dramatic growth in the number of pensioners over the next three decades will send costs, put at £256m in 2006, spiralling, Lord Sutherland’s report shows. And the author warns that Scotland must wake up to the huge impact the country’s rapidly changing age-profile will have on public finances and services.

Free personal and nursing care was introduced to a fanfare in 2002. It has been hailed as one of the biggest achievements of Scotland’s devolved government, and is the envy of many south of the Border. However, the independent review, commissioned by the Scottish Government last summer, reveals the price that such a popular policy will have in years to come.