Scotland’s NHS is “hurtling over a precipice”, the country’s former leading cancer clinician has claimed in a withering attack on the SNP’s record in government.
Dr Anna Gregor, who led Scotland’s successful cancer strategy and was recognised for her services to medicine with a CBE, said the health service has been starved of cash over the last decade.
She accused the SNP of “pork-barrel politics of the highest order” and not passing on the extra funding made available by the UK government
Dr Gregor told The Sunday Times: “The main problem for me about the Scottish health service is that until about 10 years ago we could have put the NHS on a sustainable footing.
“Ten years ago we didn’t have a 25% vacancy rate in senior clinical staff. We didn’t have budget shortfalls. We didn’t have such a demoralised staff that they were all looking to protect their pension pots and going at 55. We didn’t have the recruitment issues.
“We can’t get people to come here. The politicians are being extremely disingenuous when they say we want a health service fit for the 21st century. They are doing nothing to make that happen. In fact quite the opposite. They are stopping things from happening.”
NHS spending in Scotland, at about £12.2bn a year, accounts for about 40% of the total Scottish budget.
Treasury figures cited by the Conservatives have shown a 9% increase in health spending in England compared with a 3.4% increase in Scotland between 2011-12 and 2015-16.
NHS boards have been asked to make efficiency savings of £500m this year. Such cutbacks have been cited as contributing to the financial crisis at NHS Tayside.
Scottish Labour health spokesman Anas Sarwar said: “This is an extraordinary intervention by Scotland’s former lead cancer clinician, and exposes the impact of a decade of SNP mismanagement on our NHS.
“For someone of Dr Gregor’s standing to criticise the Nationalists’ running of the NHS like this is very serious and cannot be dismissed by Nicola Sturgeon.”
The Scottish government said it is committing an additional £327m to health boards, “including the passing on of all resource consequentials, taking NHS funding to a record high level and delivering £176m more than inflation this year.”
A spokesman added: “This clearly reflects our commitment to protect the NHS with record levels of investment and is an important step to- wards achieving our commitment to increase the frontline NHS budget by almost £2bn by the end of this parliament.”