Scottish government pledges more cash for health and social care in budget
Author: Caroline White
The Scottish government has pledged more cash for health and social care in its budget for 2020-21, but nurse leaders say it isn’t enough to meet the country’s safe staffing legislation requirements.
Theresa Fyffe, director, RCN Scotland, said that while extra funding was always welcome, “given the scale of the challenges, we need to see a continued long-term focus to tackle current shortages and meet ever increasing needs.
“The Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Act provides an opportunity to address nursing workforce shortages, but it will only be successful if there is adequate funding in place as well as an increase in the nursing workforce.”
She added: “£5.8m to support implementation and embed the use of workforce planning tools is welcome.” In 2019-20, the allocation was £2.56m.
“However, success also relies on sufficient funding for health and care providers to meet their safe staffing duties under the Act in a sustainable way,” she said.
Her comments follow on from the announcement last week by public finance minister Kate Forbes that the government would be investing £15 billion in health and care services and £645 million for the expansion of early learning and childcare in the 2020-21 budget.
The Scottish government has also proposed £117 million for mental health for all ages and stages of life; and a 3% pay uplift for public sector workers earning up to £80,000.
Ms Fyffe pointed out that following sustained pressure from the RCN, the Scottish government committed in December to increase the district nursing headcount by 375, and welcomed the additional funding of £4.5m to start delivering this.
But she added: “Given the crucial role that district nursing teams play in shifting the delivery of care form hospitals to community settings, we will be seeking clarity on how this will be allocated to health boards and integration authorities to support them to recruit to, train, and resource these additional posts for the longer term.”
And she said: “With significant demand for mental health services and an increasing trend in nursing vacancies in the mental health workforce, ministers must ensure that the additional funding announced for mental health is targeted in the right places to enable sustained service improvement.”