NHS in Scotland facing 'pressure', doctors warn

Dr Peter Bennie Image copyright Bma
Image caption Dr Peter Bennie said the NHS faced serious challenges in 2016

The NHS in Scotland will face "significantly more pressure" in the coming year despite a budget increase, the doctors' leaders have warned.

The British Medical Association claimed that "constrained resources" meant the health service was struggling to cope with increasing demands.

BMA Scotland chairman Peter Bennie also said the number of jobs lying vacant could have a "detrimental impact".

The Scottish government said it had a "clear vision for the future".

Rising demand

With Holyrood elections due to take place in May, Dr Bennie called on Scotland's political leaders to focus on the "serious challenges" the NHS has to deal with.

He said: "The funding gap faced by the NHS set against rising demand and the impact of increasing consultant, specialty doctor and GP vacancies and unfilled trainee posts cannot be ignored, and we must establish ways to make Scotland's NHS a more attractive place to work."

Dr Bennie made the plea as he issued his Christmas message just over a week after Deputy First Minister John Swinney announced the NHS would receive almost £13bn in 2016-17 under his budget plans.

The BMA Scotland chairman said that cash should help prevent the current funding gap from "growing further".

But he added: "It is clear that the NHS will face significantly more pressure as Scotland's population continues to age."

Dr Bennie said the struggle to recruit and retain doctors adds to the burden staff carry.

"Unfilled vacancies put pressure on existing NHS staff, already dealing with high workloads," he said.

"This is a concern that doctors express to us regularly, along with the belief that in the long-term this will have a detrimental impact on their ability to deliver the sustainable, high-quality care people in Scotland need and deserve."

Health Secretary Shona Robison said: "We agree with the BMA that the focus must be on delivering high-quality care to the people of Scotland and ensuring our NHS is sustainable for future generations.

"That is why the Scottish government has a clear vision for the future of our NHS and we will continue to take the right action to ensure that Scotland continues to have an NHS that it can be proud of today and in the future."

Scottish Labour public services spokesman Dr Richard Simpson said: "This is a stark warning from one of the most senior clinicians in Scotland."

He added: "Doctors, nurses and all those who work in our health service have dedicated their careers to caring for others, but we know from the NHS staff survey that only a third of them think they actually get the support they need to do their jobs."

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