Scottish committee slams lack of clarity over £8bn health and social care spend

13 Nov 17

Holyrood’s health committee has powerfully criticised a lack of clarity as to how or to what effect more than £8bn of Scottish taxpayers’ money is being spent under the merger of health and social care provision.

Neil Findlay, Labour convener of the Parliament’s health and sport committee, said today: “There is a distinct lack of data to identify and evaluate outcomes, including spending and savings.

“This would be unacceptable for any public money, let alone over £8bn. It needs rectifying immediately and a mechanism for facilitating scrutiny of performance, spend and savings put in place.”

Health and social care provision, previously administered separately by, respectively, the NHS and local authorities, was merged in April of last year with a view to creating a more integrated service and ending problems like bed-blocking.

The new service operates under a structure of integration authorities (IAs), and it is the budgetary clarity of these that the report, published today, criticises.

The committee said: “We are disappointed at the apparent lack of progress in the true integration of budgets.

“We have heard each blaming the others for the lack of progress.

“At a basic level, it is unacceptable that, two years on, that it is impossible to evaluate spending, or begin to evaluate outcomes.”

The report added: “We are disappointed at the absence of data to identify and evaluate outcomes, including spending and savings.

“This requires to be rectified immediately and a mechanism for facilitating scrutiny and benchmarking established.”

Findlay commented: “We have identified some of the challenges faced by IAs, including areas such as the setting of budgets, measuring the outcomes of their investment, and shifting resource to deliver transformational change in health and social care”.

He added: “These are issues the committee has returned to several times in the last two years and it is vital that each IA immediately tackles and delivers on these challenges.”

He also conveyed the committee’s concern that the creation of the new service had given rise to a blame culture, “allowing different agencies to blame each other for the lack of progress with integration”. 

Findlay said: “We are recommending in our report to the [Scottish] Government that leadership is needed from the chief officers of each IA to deliver value for the public purse, [and] the necessary changes we highlight, along with the promised transformation in the way these vital services are delivered”.

  • Keith Aitken
    Keith Aitken

    covers Scottish affairs for Public Finance from Edinburgh. He was formerly economics editor and chief leader writer on The Scotsman and now has a busy freelance career as a writer, broadcaster and event chair.

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