Scottish NHS managers criticised for poor spend management

2 July 2010

2 July 2010 | Andy Allen

A parliamentary report has attacked spending at the NHS in Scotland and thrown doubt on the service’s ability to make cuts.

The Scottish Parliament's Health and Sport Committee has criticised how the service has managed its £10.5 billion annual budget.

The committee said it had heard from NHS managers that efficiency savings would become increasingly difficult to make, but they saw no evidence why this was the case.

In fact, members said they had found evidence that the NHS had let spending soar during times of plenty without a corresponding rise in productivity.

“Some of the savings being discussed at present surprised committee members in that they had not already been addressed years ago,” the report said.

Examples included driving harder bargains on procurement and reducing the use of agency nurses.

“It is simply not clear why these potential savings have not been realised before now,” members added.

“There is a sense that things have been allowed to drift during the years of financial growth with inefficiencies allowed to continue.”

The committee said one director from an NHS board had told them his workforce had grown even though there was no extra work just because the funding was available.

“The committee is concerned that the reductions in budget growth, faced with continuing rises in demand and inflationary pressures, will place the NHS under great strain,” it said.

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