The challenges of an increasing elderly population and new drug developments
Question to the First Minister on the low increase in health spending Malcolm Chisholm (Edinburgh North and Leith) (Lab):
How can NHS boards throughout Scotland employ more physiotherapists or more of any other staff group next year when the real-terms increase to NHS boards is 0.5 per cent - the lowest increase that I, or I suspect the First Minister, can remember? Notwithstanding the excellent progress that NHS boards have made over the past few years in slashing waiting times and reducing the number of deaths from the great killer diseases, how does the First Minister expect boards to address the challenges of an increasing elderly population and new drug developments when the increase that is available to them is less than health service inflation, which runs at least 1 per cent ahead of general inflation?

The First Minister:
I have been calculating the number of Labour and Liberal MSPs who want increases in budget calculations. There have been 17 Labour motions and 16 Liberal motions to date in this Parliament. I will take great delight in asking those members what budgets they intend to cut to meet those demands.

I point out to Malcolm Chisholm that individual board allocations have not been set yet, but there are real-terms increases in the health budget. I point out gently that he resigned from a Government that was going to put, as it put it, all the consequential increases into one sector—education—which means that there would have been no increases whatever in real terms for the health budget.
November 22nd 2007, (Column 3712)