MSP says NHS Grampian was “short-changed” by £165million

Mike Rumbles

The Scottish Government has short-changed NHS Grampian by £165million in the last decade, according to a north-east MSP.

Liberal Democrat Mike Rumbles revealed the figure yesterday as he grilled Health Secretary Shona Robison on the “utter failure”.

He highlighted research which showed that year-on-year targets for funding local health services in Grampian reach only 85-90% of the national average per head of population, and it is one of the lowest targets set for any NHS board in Scotland.

Ms Robison told the north-east MSP that NHS Grampian had received an additional £16.2million this year, a 1.8% rise, that brings the board’s overall funding to £898.6million, and that since 2015-16 it had been given an additional £47million to meet “parity” with other boards.

But Mr Rumbles said: “Is the cabinet secretary aware that, according to the Scottish Parliament information centre, over the past 10 years, Grampian NHS Board has been underfunded against the Scottish Government’s own target—never mind that fact that it has the lowest share of the national average—by £165million?

“The cabinet secretary’s response is that it has had £16million, or up to £47million, to redress the balance – are my constituents in the north-east supposed to be grateful for that?”

The intervention was made just days after the Scottish Conservatives unveiled a “dossier” claiming to expose a link between the health board’s low funding and its poor performance against key indicators.

During yesterday’s exchange, Ms Robison responded: “The NRAC (NHS Scotland Resource Allocation Committee) formula is specifically designed to distribute funding equitably across all communities, including deprived communities.

“NHS Grampian is within 1% of parity. As I said in my initial answer, it has received £47million for the specific purpose of accelerating that NRAC parity, and it has received a £3million share of the £50million additional funding to enable it to tackle some of the waiting times challenges that it currently has.”

Speaking afterwards, Mr Rumbles said the shortfall was “simply not good enough and it has to stop now”.

He added: “This is a very serious matter. The Scottish Government’s utter failure to meet its own funding targets for local health services has set NHS Grampian back by decades.

“This year alone we have seen a sharp drop in the number of planned operations being carried out in the region, over 3700 fewer than last year.

“It is the hard working staff and ultimately the patients that have been made to suffer because the Scottish Government have set their funding priorities elsewhere and the minister knows this.”