In its report – Overview of the NHS in Scotland’s performance 2008/09 – the Public Audit Committee welcomes the savings that senior staff pay freezes and the reduction in management posts will deliver to the NHS. However, politicians, the public and NHS Managers will need to co-operate over the delivery of health service redesign in order to achieve further efficiency savings.
The committee’s report also states that the NHS will not be able to simply ‘salami slice’ budgets to deliver the two per cent efficiency savings by 2010/11 required by the Efficient Government Programme. The committee also recognises that if NHS Boards are to continue to develop new services, and fund the capital improvement already agreed, NHS boards will need to reinvest efficiency savings and identify further sources of funding.
Committee Convener Hugh Henry MSP said:
“The Committee welcomes the freeze on senior staff salaries and the reduction in management posts in the NHS. However, the committee wants to know how the Scottish Government will monitor the impact of projected NHS workplace reductions on quality of care, and ensure that they do not have a detrimental impact on the delivery of front line services.”
“The committee is also concerned that, even if NHS Boards are able to retain any efficiency savings they make, this additional funding may at best only sustain the current service levels. The committee is therefore seeking clarification from the Scottish Government as to whether NHS Boards will be able to retain their efficiency savings in future years.”
In light of the impact on the NHS of increasing numbers of young people being diagnosed with chronic liver disease, Mr Henry said:
“The committee was concerned to learn that data on alcohol misuse was not collected centrally. Such information is vital for NHS Boards to be able to better and more effectively plan their services, particularly during a period of financial constraint. The committee has therefore recommended that the Scottish Government act quickly to address this situation.”
In its report the committee also:
- supports evidence that savings can be achieved by investing in anticipatory care and targeting treatment in areas of high deprivation;
- seeks further information from the Scottish Government on the transition of NHS funding in accordance with the NHS Scotland Resource Allocation Committee (NRAC) formula.
- recommends that the Scottish Government needs to urgently improve the measurement of quality associated with the outputs of the NHS to enable Boards to deliver their services more economically, efficiently and effectively.
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