17th November 2017

Minister urged to help boost health and social care funding

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The Scottish government has again been urged to stump up more cash to stop “draconian cuts” facing health and social care.

IJB vice-chairman Allison Duncan argued the case today with Minister for Public Health and Sport Aileen Campbell at an NHS Shetland annual meeting.

Fears have been raised by the SIC councillor as the council and NHS must find more than £30 million in savings over the next five years.

Reading from a recent piece in The Herald, Mr Duncan warned the minister that IJBs are grappling with deficits of between three and 14 per cent.

Shetland, he said was “somewhere at the very top”, also referencing a joint submission by finance heads of Scotlands 31 IJB boards and the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy to Ms Campbell’s committee.

“When is this government going to realise this can’t continue and increase funding to all IJBs? Please don’t use the excuse this is a Westminster problem,” Mr Duncan said.

Ms Campbell said the public sector was facing challenges around finances.

She said the Scottish government had protected the health budget “as best we can” and noted an increase of £2 billion on the health budget by the end of the parliament.

There were challenges, she said, though it was not just about money. It was important to work together too.

“Unless you give more money to Shetland Islands Council the cuts in this island community are going to be draconian,” said Mr Duncan calling for more money from the government.

Afterwards Ms Campbell was asked if Shetland could be taken on its own merits when it came to providing social care.

She said it was “a massive shift” in the public sector landscape, it needed people to work together and there were challenges to living in an island community.

She denied it was one-size-fits-all approach.

“It’s always been about empowering local authorities and health boards with the autonomy to make decisions that fit them,” she said.

Budget discussions happen regularly, she said.

Asked if the government would be giving more money to the IJB, she said: “What we need to do is make sure that what they’re doing with the money is effective and the structures are in place to be effectively delivering what the IJBs are charged with delivering.

“If there’s a case to be made then of course we’re going to listen to the case, but we also expect people to be able to work together to deliver what they’ve been charged to do.”

• More in Friday’ Shetland Times.

About Adam Guest

Reporter for The Shetland Times. I have also worked as a senior news reporter at The Press and Journal, The Barnsley Chronicle and as a freelance reporter for The Doncaster Free Press. Alongside news reporting I specialise in music and sports journalism. Pork pie lover.

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