Extra health cash must be ‘targeted and effective’, Government warned

A doctors' organisation welcomed an increase of around £730 million in health resource funding announced in the Scottish draft budget but warned it must be "targeted and effective".

A separate organisation, representing GPs, called for "appropriate funding" for GPs and primary care to tackle the "workforce crisis".

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said the increase in the resource budget for health and sport, up 5.5% on the previous year to £13.9 billion, confirms "health is a top priority for the government".

He said the rise would take spending levels to £754 million over and above inflation since 2016/17 which he told MSPs is equivalent to 19,000 nurses.

Funding for front-line NHS boards will rise by 4.2% to £430 million, which includes a £149 million increase in investment for reform.

Most of the extra reform cash will go to improving waiting times, up £90 million on 2017/18 to £146 million while primary care will increase by £35 million to £155 million, and cancer by £2 million to £12 million.

Direct investment in mental health services will rise by £27 million taking overall mental health funding to £1.1 billion in the next financial year.

Investment in social care and integration will rise to more than £700 million in 2019/20, which includes the £120 million being transferred from health to local government for integration and school counselling services as well as £40 million to local government to extend free personal care to under 65s.

A Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh spokesman said: "The draft budget indicates the Scottish Government's continued commitment to increasing the health resource budget by £2 billion by the end of this parliament, and we welcome the increase of £730 million for 2019-20.

"However, we know that the Scottish NHS is under a great deal of pressure and health funding must be targeted and effective."

Dr Alasdair Forbes of the Royal College of General Practitioners Scotland said: "We've been clear in calling for urgent and continuing action to be taken to tackle the GP workforce crisis.

"That will only be achieved by appropriately funding general practice and primary care, so helping to deal with the unsustainable workload challenges being faced by family doctors.

"We hope to see an appropriate portion of the funding announced in today's budget go to general practice and primary care."

The organisation predicts a shortfall in full time GPs of 856 by 2021 and said despite Scottish Government schemes aimed at boosting GP numbers such as setting up a graduate entry medical school and a dedicated GP jobs website, more needs to be done.

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