These commentaries by John Macgill represent his opinions only and not those of any Ettrickburn client.

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Focusing the Vision: Dr Rose Marie Parr on the new strategy for Scottish pharmacy

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SMC – are drug firms voting with their feet?

Radical Surgery on the Horizon for Scotland’s NHS

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SMC says no then NICE says yes – three times

SNP promises single formulary and a review of Scotland’s NHS

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Comparison of Funds: New Medicines v Cancer Drugs

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A tribute to five retiring MSPs

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Scottish NHS Strategy calls for 'Realistic Medicine'

The Scottish Model of Value for Medicines: Taking Everything into Consideration

When SMC Says No: An Access to Medicines Lottery

Reviewing the Review: Access to New Medicines in Scotland

A day of psephology and kidology

Insulting the Lifesavers

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Tuesday, September 06, 2016: Health and Care in the First Minister’s Programme for Government

In many respects the First Minister’s speech announcing the new programme for the Scottish Government was a restatement of the manifesto promises on which the Scottish National Party was elected just a few months ago.

The commitment remains to increasing the money available for the day to day running of the NHS by £500 million more than inflation over the period of this parliament, and to invest £150 million to back a new mental health strategy, on which the government is consulting with a view to publishing it by this time next year.

The First Minister signalled that the post-Brexit extra stimulus spending she has already announced means that it can now be full steam ahead with the promised expansion of the Golden Jubilee hospital at Clydebank and the building of the five new elective and diagnostic treatment centres: promised in the manifesto for Edinburgh, Livingston, Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness.

The biggest cost in running the NHS and the health and social care partnerships is paying people. Ms Sturgeon told MSPs that the Government is committed to building on the record number of staff working in the NHS by training more nurses, doctors, paramedics and community link workers. A new National Workforce Plan is promised imminently, followed by legislation “to enshrine safe staffing levels in law”.

Indeed, the biggest budget impact from today’s announcement may well be in meeting the promise that all adult social care workers will now be paid the ‘real living wage’. While nobody could argue with the need to reward carers generously, funding any pay increase is challenging – not just affecting those organisations that are commissioned to provide services for the health and social care partnerships, but also those who need to compete with them for staff.

The First Minister’s statement to Parliament repeated the Scottish Government’s commitment to investing in transforming primary care: “helping GPs to work in multi-disciplinary teams with allied healthcare professionals such as pharmacists, community nurses and social workers”.

Nicola Sturgeon said the Scottish Government will be transferring at least £250 million each year from the NHS to the integrated health and social care partnerships “to build the capacity and resilience of our social care services”.

What was not in the First Minister’s Programme for Government was any update on the manifesto pledge to review the governance and structure of the NHS in Scotland. Medicines, formularies and the New Medicines Fund were also not mentioned, perhaps so as not to prejudge Dr Montgomery’s current review of the processes that Scotland uses to assess new medicines for use in Scotland’s NHS.