Scottish parties pledge no NHS cuts

Protecting the NHS budget from funding cuts dominated political parties' pledges ahead of the Scottish elections.

Dr Keighley: 'deeply concerned' about Conservative plans (Photograph: Jason Heath Lancy)
Dr Keighley: 'deeply concerned' about Conservative plans (Photograph: Jason Heath Lancy)

The Scottish National Party, the Conservatives and Labour all promised to protect NHS funding if elected on 5 May.

In its election manifesto, the Conservative Party pledged to reduce top-level management costs by 30%. It promised to hand GPs a greater leadership role in community health partnerships (CHPs) - primary care organisations which function as subcommittees of Scottish health boards, linking health and social care.

But it also said it would drop the current ban on private sector organisations providing primary care services in Scotland, and re-introduce prescription charges of £5 per item.

Dr Brian Keighley, chairman of the BMA in Scotland, said he was 'deeply concerned' about the Conservative plans.

'This is in tune with the direction of travel in England, and one that is not supported here in Scotland,' he said.

The Scottish Labour Party said it would reject the proposals to introduce market values in the NHS.

The party said it would review all NHS bonus schemes and performance related pay, and cut health board numbers.

It said further savings could be made by using generic medicine, and it promised to review the CHP programme.

Dr Keighley said: 'We are pleased Labour's manifesto recommends reforming these structures, redirecting their activities towards clinical rather than managerial functions.'

Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats pledged investment in preventive care and telehealth 'to avoid unnecessary outpatient and inpatient activity'.

The party said it would retain the NHS 24 health phone line, but improve out-of-hours care in Scotland, putting GPs 'back at the centre of the service'.

Dr Keighley said: 'I am pleased that the Liberal Democrats have made a commitment to work with us to develop our proposals for improving out-of-hours.'

The Scottish National Party had yet to release its manifesto as GP went to press, but it has previously said it will protect Scotland's NHS from England's market-based reforms.

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