MSP calls Scottish Government NHS infrastructure decision 'deeply alarming'

An MSP has described a decision by the Scottish Government to halt new NHS building projects in the country for at least two years as "deeply alarming and distressing."

Craig Hoy, the Conservative MSP for South Scotland, also called Borders General Hospital "not fit for purpose" as he called for more funding.

On Monday the Scottish Government said it was suspending new building projects due to financial pressures, and blamed the UK government in Westminster, claiming its capital investment budget had been cut in real terms due to rising inflation.

"The UK Government did not inflation-proof its capital budget which has resulted in nearly a 10% real-term cut in the Scottish Government’s capital funding over the medium-term between 2023-24 and 2027-28," a spokesperson said.

Over a dozen projects have now been suspended, none of which were planned to be in the Scottish Borders. But Mr Hoy argued that the policy made new infrastructure for the local NHS less likely, saying this would affect patients.

"Particularly in rural areas there is a need for investment in capital, and new GP surgeries, and also in the Borders General Hospital," he said.

"These cuts to the capital budget are deeply alarming and distressing and will impact patient care."

The news comes as NHS Borders deals with a large deficit, with health officials expected to announce cuts over the next few weeks. The health body needs to find £45 million worth of savings over the next three years.

Elsewhere in south Scotland, NHS Dumfries and Galloway is also under financial pressure, announcing last week planned cuts to workforce, infrastructure, and the delivery of services as it seeks to save millions of pounds. In response, the Scottish Government's health secretary Neil Gray said: "We are providing over £14.2 billion for NHS boards in 2024 - 2025 to support services, a real terms increase of almost 3%.

Despite our significant investment. NHS boards, like other public services, are under unprecedented pressure as a result of UK government austerity, inflation, Brexit and COVID."

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