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From The Socialist newspaper, 14 November 2018

Deepening Scottish health funding crisis

NHS Tayside facing massive job cuts

NHS

NHS   (Click to enlarge)

Alan Manley, health worker and Socialist Party Scotland, Dundee

NHS Tayside in September discussed plans to axe 1,300 jobs - 10% of the entire workforce! It will mean longer waiting times, poorer services and a devastating increase in workload on the already overworked and underpaid staff. In the four years up to 2018, 600 posts have already gone.

These cuts need to be stopped. The health unions, who knew this was coming, need to develop a response that puts the need to protect service provision front and centre by fighting for more NHS jobs.

Crisis

This is a public emergency. It high-lights the consequences of a Scottish National Party (SNP) government imposing Tory austerity in the health service, when the need for full funding is clearer than ever.

Last winter was one of crisis throughout the NHS in Scotland, along with the rest of the UK. Operations were cancelled and treatment delayed, as cuts and closures affected all health disciplines. One year on and this winter will be no better.

Audit Scotland, the country's public spending watchdog, published a report in late October, stating that NHS Scotland faces a huge funding crisis.

Despite the SNP government's promise to increase spending by 500 million above inflation in real terms, NHS funding fell last year by 0.2% - failing to match costs and inflation. Health boards made unprecedented cuts of almost 500 million in 2017-18.

The backlog of repairs is valued at 899 million. Eight health boards have forecast deficits of 132 million by the end of the year. Some have claimed emergency loans totalling 102 million to balance their books.

Scotland's NHS remains mired in debt. The obligations to private companies under rip-off Private Finance Initiative (PFI) schemes is one factor, as is the spiralling costs paid to drug companies - which have jumped by 19% in five years.

Another winter of crisis following a year of underfunding is inevitable. The recent UK budget announced an increase in funding for the Scottish government but this will not cover the costs in health, let alone other public services.

The need for a fully funded NHS, the nationalisation of the drugs companies, the scrapping of all PFIs and a reversal of all spending cuts, is more pressing as each day passes.

It's long past time the NHS trade unions launched a mass campaign to defend the NHS. This funding emergency requires nothing less.

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In The Socialist 14 November 2018:


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