Davidson: Salmond has failed on NHS cash promise

CONSERVATIVE leader Ruth Davidson has accused the First Minister of failing to deliver on hundreds of millions of pounds promised to Scotland’s health service.

Alex Salmond has failed to deliver on NHS spending promises, Ruth Davidson has claimed. Picture: Greg Macvean
Alex Salmond has failed to deliver on NHS spending promises, Ruth Davidson has claimed. Picture: Greg Macvean

Ms Davidson launched a fresh attack on an SNP commitment to protect health spending during First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood.

Last week the Tory leader cited a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) which she said shows that health spending by the UK Government is up 4.4 per cent and the same spending by the Scottish Government is down by 1.2 per cent.

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Alex Salmond responded by saying that the IFS figures included spending on sport, which in Scotland takes into account the money spent on the Commonwealth Games.

Returning to the subject, Ms Davidson dismissed this claim as “arrant nonsense” and said Mr Salmond had been “caught out”.

She said she had checked the First Minister’s claim that “every single penny of consequentials has been devoted to the national health service in Scotland” with the Scottish Parliament’s independent information service.

Ms Davidson said: “Looking at health spending over the last five years they concluded that the figures show a drop of spending, and I will quote, ‘equivalent to a 1.2 per cent fall in the health budget in real terms’. That is hundreds of millions of pounds.

“The analysis also notes ‘these figures do not include sport’. The First Minister’s Commonwealth Games excuse is rubbish and it’s been shown to be rubbish twice.”

She added: “The First Minister has got it wrong, his Health Secretary has got it wrong.

“Everyone can see they have got it wrong and hundreds of millions of pounds that they promised to Scotland’s NHS has never been delivered.”

Mr Salmond insisted that it was Ms Davidson who had “got it wrong”.

He said the IFS report had not included non-profit distribution (NPD) spending, an alternative to the private finance initiative (PFI) model of funding Government projects, which he said was worth £380 million in the next financial year alone.

The First Minister said: “Our commitment has always been to resource spending, that was the commitment in our manifesto and every single penny of consequentials have been devoted to the National Health Service in Scotland.

“That is why in spite of the 7.2 per cent real-terms Westminster cut we’ve ensured that National Health Service Scotland revenue will increase by 4.2 per cent in real terms over the period 2009/10 to 2015/16.

“A very considerable achievement in the face of the draconian cutbacks from Westminster.”

He added: “We have guaranteed the revenue budget of the Scottish National Health Service will be protected in real terms.

“We have never expressed it in anything other than the resource budget.

“Now it has been explained to Ruth Davidson that the mistake the IFS made was not to include NPD spending.

“I’m sure she is reassured that unlike south of the border, the National Health Service in Scotland is in safe hands.”