Performance of NHS Scotland ‘is in decline’

According to the BBC, the Scottish NHS has been found by Audit Scotland to be in decline, with the government taking the watchdog’s recommendations into consideration

Audit Scotland has warned that the Scottish NHS is not financially sustainable, and that its performance is in decline.

It has said that health boards are ‘struggling to break even’, with none meeting all key national targets.

Health Secretary for Scotland, Jeane Freeman, said the government is already taking Audit Scotland’s recommendations on board.

However, the watchdog’s report has prompted widespread criticism of the Scottish government, with Conservatives claiming it should “make shameful reading for the SNP”.

The report shows that pressure is building in certain key areas including the recruitment and retention of staff, rising drug costs and the uncertainty of Brexit.

Audit Scotland warns that the NHS is ‘relying increasingly on Scottish government loans and one-off savings’, and that ‘declining performance against national standards indicates the stress NHS boards are under’.

The only target met nationally in 2017/18 was for drugs and patients to be seen within three weeks.

The Scottish government invested £13.1bn in NHS services last year, but Audit Scotland said that, with inflation taken into account, there is actually a 0.2% real terms drop.

The report says that the ‘NHS is managing to maintain the overall quality of care, but it is coming under increasing pressure’.

Auditor general, Caroline Gardner, said:

“The performance of the NHS continues to decline, while demands on the service from Scotland’s ageing population are growing.

“The solutions lie in changing how healthcare is accessed and delivered, but progress is too slow.”

Freeman responded: “While our NHS faces challenges, common with health systems across the world, we are implementing a new waiting times improvement plan to direct £850m of investment over the next three years to deliver substantial and sustainable improvements to performance, and significantly improve the experience of patients waiting to be seen or treated.

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“Ultimately we want to ensure people can continue to look forward to a healthier future with access to a health and social care system that continues to deliver the world-class compassionate care Scotland is known for.”

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