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Parliamentary Debates and Questions

S5W-13218: Michelle Ballantyne (South Scotland)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 8 December 2017

To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to ensure that each NHS board will be in a position to afford to (a) fund pay increases and (b) recruit more GPs.

Answered by: Shona Robison 18 January 2018

The Scottish Government’s 2018-19 Draft Budget sets out details of a 3.7% uplift in funding for frontline NHS Boards, comprising budget increases of £179m and a share of £175m additional funding for reform. In the Draft Budget, the Scottish Government has set a pay policy of a 3% increase for those on less than £30,000 and 2% above that, however for the NHS we will also respect the views of independent pay review bodies and look to ensure that our health service staff are treated at least as fairly as those in any of the UK nations. The UK government has said that funding will be provided in England to meet the recommendations of the pay review bodies for NHS Agenda for Change staff, and as always any Barnett consequentials from NHS spending in England will be passed to the NHS in Scotland.

We have recently announced our commitment to increase the number of GPs by at least 800 over ten years, to ensure a sustainable service that meets increasing demand on our services. Our strategy to recruit and retain our existing GPs will be set out in part 3 of the national health and social care workforce plan to be published early next year. Investment in the GP Recruitment and Retention Fund has increased five-fold this year, to £5m, and will increase again to £7.5m in 2018-19.

As announced in the Draft Budget on 14 December, the Health and Sport resource budget will increase by over £400 million to £13.1 billion in 2018-19. We have prioritised investment in frontline services, and total additional funding for our frontline NHS Boards will amount to £354 million. These increases have only been made possible, without impacting on other public services, through the progressive tax policies set out in the Draft Budget.

Our estimate is that Conservative tax policies would have resulted in a reduction in the Scottish Government’s resource budget of £501 million in 2018-19.