Most of the focus on budget cuts so far has been on local government. However, recently that focus has shifted to the NHS with health boards planning around £200m of cuts, resulting in nearly 4000 job losses.
Like other services there is an apparent disconnect between increased funding from the Scottish Government and cuts at health board level. The explanation is largely down to increased demand, actual inflation well above the Scottish Government's assumption and in the case of some boards, the funding allocation formula.
The issue was debated today in Parliament on a Labour motion calling for the publication of workforce projections. The Cabinet Secretary responded positively by publishing the projections and announcing the establishment of a partnership group with the trade unions to scrutinise the plans. Health boards will privately be unhappy at this degree of scrutiny from the centre, but it is the right approach.
Our response starts with real concern over the scale of job cuts and the inevitable impact on the service. However, we welcomed the constructive approach to scrutinising the figures and will engage in a dialogue over these plans at national and local level. Constructive dialogue is aided by the commitment to no compulsory redundancies.