Unions protest against NHS Fife cuts

Protestors outside the Town House. Pic by FPA
Protestors outside the Town House. Pic by FPA

A demonstration against cuts to the NHS Fife budget took place yesterday outside Kirkcaldy’s Town House.

Members from the Unite, Unison, GMB and the Fife People’s Assembly gathered with placards before the meeting of the Fife Health and Social Care Partnership’s integrated Board.

John Gillespie, chairman of Unite in Fife said: “The NHS being forced to make millions of pounds of savings on top of an already stretched budget is just not acceptable.”

The meeting at the Town House was to agree the 2017/18 budget for health and social care in Fife, which included proposals to meet a £23m shortfall in funding.

Councillor David Ross, leader of Fife Council and a board member was one of four who voted against the budget proposals.

He said: “I have real concerns that the decision taken today will mean significant cuts to services and job losses in health and social care in the months to come.

“Officials have tried their best to bridge the £23m gap in funding but the reality is that funding from the Scottish Government is just not enough. We heard concerns expressed by unions, staff and patient representatives and by other members of the board about the risks and the impact these budget proposals could have on services.

“The Council has allocated its share of funding to these joint services with an additional £5m set aside for this in our budget, despite the Scottish Government saying we could actually cut our contribution by £5m. And some savings have already been agreed through the redesign of services.

“But this left a black hole of £10m in the IJB’s budget to be filled by a hugely optimistic saving of £6m in prescribing costs and £4m of as yet unidentified savings. The cost of prescribing has actually risen in the current year so I am not at all convinced £6m can be saved from prescribing next year.

“I wasn’t prepared to sign up today to a budget that I think is unrealistic and that could mean significant cuts to health and social care services. I wanted officials to take these proposals away and come back with proposals that told us exactly where the proposed cuts would fall so everyone could see the full implications of what we were agreeing to, for services and jobs.”