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Health & Care: Finance, Workforce and Reform

In the context of the Scottish Budget for the coming year, Audit Scotland and the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) have been looking at the finances of NHS Scotland. This has led to further calls for the reform of NHS Scotland. In this month’s briefing, we look at the finances and workforce plan for health and social care and emphasise caution when using comparative data. We conclude that reforms must address the underlying challenges facing our health and care system.

As a recent study shows, privatisation is not the solution and leads to poorer outcomes. Funding is critical coupled with action on:

• Investment in digital health and care.

• A realistic workforce plan.

• Investment in social care.

• A focus on prevention and early public health interventions.

We should always remember that the pressures on our NHS are largely the result of Scotland’s health inequalities. Men in the most deprived areas of Scotland not only live 14 years less but can expect to spend 35% of their lives in poor health. The solutions to inequalities lie outwith the health and care system.

Whatever combination of solutions Scotland adopts, it is hard to disagree with the Audit Scotland conclusion that the health and care system needs a long-term vision. The new Cabinet Secretary for Health has promised one, which needs to reflect the views of patients and staff.