Doubts over Labour cuts claim

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The Labour party and sections of the Scottish press today stood accused of exaggerating job reduction totals….

The Labour party and sections of the Scottish press today stood accused of exaggerating job reduction totals resulting from natural wastage within the NHS and also disingenuously presenting them as cuts to front line services.

Headlines in The Herald and Daily Record newspapers claimed that SNP cuts would lead to at least 5000 front line job losses, however no such job losses are pending, the articles themselves admit that the figure is speculation.
 
The story resulted from claims by Labour’s Holyrood leader Iain Gray that the SNP were forcing ‘cuts’ on the Scottish NHS after a document indicated a Glasgow Health Board’s plans to allow its workforce to drop to more efficient levels.  The board claimed that patient care could be maintained as a result of improvements to its organisation and equipment upgrades.

A spokesman for the health board said:
“Between 2009 and 2012 we will have spent £350m on modernising our hospitals and other facilities, equipment and support services.

“This investment will create purpose-built facilities enabling us to provide care to our patients more efficiently and more effectively.

“By redesigning our services, including a move for some services onto fewer sites, we have identified that we can provide the same high quality care for our patients with fewer staff – 700 in 2010/11, rising to 1,252 over 18 months.”

However, the move was condemned by the Royal College of Nursing who voiced concerns that patient safety would be put at risk.

The proposal from the board, yet to be signed off by the Scottish Government, would see a  total of 1252 posts gradually disappear, these include 315 administrative and clerical staff, 180 facilities staff and 30 managers. Eight consultants’ posts are also at risk.

The reduction in manpower costs would not involve any compulsory redundancies and is expected to be gradual as people retired and moved on, with manpower levels being reached in 2013.

Far from cutting funding to the NHS, figures show that the SNP have actually increased spending in this area, this despite the former Labour government cutting the Scottish budget.

The SNP have pursued efficiencies throughout the public sector since coming to power in 2007.  Crucially they have insisted that any savings made within an organisation stay within the organisation in order to improve services.

Health boards have also had to contend with the Labour legacy of PFI and other contracts that are costing the Scottish NHS unknown £millions.