Call for review of health provision

Finlay Carson MSP 
 Pic - Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament
Finlay Carson MSP Pic - Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament

Local MSP Finlay Carson has written to Health Secretary Shona Robison calling for an independent, root and branch review of health provision in the region.

The calls come amidst concerns over the level of funding the region receives from the National Funding Formula (NRAC) which sets much of the budget for health boards in Scotland.

Mr Carson has raised concerns over the extent to which the current formula takes account of the needs of rural health boards. He has questioned the use of postcodes as an identifier of areas of deprivation, suggesting it is inadequate for rural areas such as Dumfries and Galloway.

Health provision in the region has been in the spotlight after Galloway Community Hospital in Stranraer was forced to temporarily close a ward and downgrade it’s Accident & Emergency department due to staffing shortages.

The Scottish Government say that the changes at Galloway Community Hospital were temporary measures and that funding for NHS Dumfries and Galloway is at a record high.

In a letter to Cabinet Secretary for Health, Shona Robison, Mr Carson says: “There are real concerns that decisions around health service delivery in Dumfries and Galloway are focussed on business needs rather than on patient outcomes.

“As elected representatives, we all want to deliver the very best for our constituents. I am sure that you will agree that the residents of Dumfries and Galloway deserve equity and equality of health services in line with the rest of Scotland. To ensure that Dumfries and Galloway Health Board have the required funding to delivering a fair and equitable service across the region which is in line with the rest of Scotland I request that you initiate an external independent root and branch review of health provision in this region.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The health board’s change at GCH was only ever a temporary measure.

“The board sought to assure us that this was to ensure patient safety and anyone requiring A&E was taken to and treated at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary. We will continue to work with all boards to ensure our investment delivers better care, services and value.

“In addition to funding for NHS Dumfries and Galloway now being at a record high, we have committed an additional £327 million to NHS Health Boards in 2017/18 - an important step towards achieving our commitment to increase the NHS revenue budget by £2 billion by the end of this parliament. The funding formula now in use provides stability and ensures health boards can better address the particular demands they face. It is responsive to a number of factors, including accepted measures of deprivation and excess costs associated with diverse geographies.

“When the NRAC formula was first introduced it came with recommendations for ongoing development. Reviews are overseen by a technical advisory group (TAGRA), and undertaken by experts working in healthcare finance, economics and analysis. The most recent run of the formula incorporated recommendations from a two-year long review of the deprivation element. We will consider Mr Carson’s representations carefully as this is taken forward.”