The Tories are urging the Scottish Government to follow Norway’s example of integrated health and social care as the NHS reels under the winter crisis.
Shadow health secretary Miles Briggs says ministers should be closely examining how the Scandinavian country manages to work an effective system which minimises delayed discharge of patients from hospital into care.
Under the Norwegian model, adults pay a deductible contribution of around £180 per year to become eligible for healthcare rather than it being free at point of delivery for everyone.
Briggs made his comments on the back of record numbers of people attending accident and emergency departments over the festive period, where only 78 per cent were admitted or discharged within four hours, well below the Scottish Government target of 95 per cent. Briggs said: “The integration of health and social care in Scotland is now more than two years in place and it’s clear that lessons can be learnt to improve practice and transform services. I hope ministers will see the benefit that learning from other countries can present.
“We all know the demographic challenges facing our county – I see that as an opportunity and positive that more people are living longer – it’s now vital that we make sure they are living healthy and happy lives.
“So as we start this new political year – I say to ministers it’s time to take stock and listen to all voices.
“Looking at the Norwegian model shows that is has not been easy for Norway to truly integrate their health and social care services – but it has been worth the effort.
“The Scottish Government should be examining closely how countries like Norway have managed to integrate successfully their health and social care systems and minimise or eliminate delayed discharge. “
Labour health spokesperson Anas Sarwar said most people wanted to maintain the service in its existing form.
He added: “While it is welcome to see the Scottish Tories thinking beyond privatisation for our NHS, this is another example of a Scottish politician pointing at Scandinavian public services as a model without admitting that it means higher taxes.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “In April 2016 Scotland became the first country in the UK to integrate health and social care.
“At long last it looks like the Tory UK government will now be following our lead.
“The Tories might find there is much they can learn from wider Norwegian policies and experience – not least as they are a successful, independent, northern European nation who are members of the single market.
“Mr Briggs may want to explain how he squares supporting tax policies that would cut public spending by £501 million with delivering the future investment needed for our health and care system.”