More spent per head in Scotland, but health benefits yet to show

Published Date: 10 June 2010

SCOTLAND is not seeing health improvements in line with the level of government spending, according to a new study.

• A report by a think-tank and auditors calls for more research into regional behaviour and health systems – to explain why Scotland’s health continues to struggle to improve. Picture: Getty

Just under £2,000 is spent per head on health in Scotland – about £250 more than in England – said the Centre for Public Policy for Regions (CPPR) think-tank and auditors KPMG.

The study said there was a 12-16 per cent higher spend per person and 30 per cent higher staffing levels north of the Border in the NHS.

Reductions in death rates, including from cancer, heart disease and strokes, were welcomed but the authors argued they do not go as far as expected.

On life expectancy, the report said improvements in Scotland did not match those in England.

The report also said that Scotland’s 30 per cent higher level of staffing should be investigated through a new regulatory body to ensure value for money.

CPPR’s John McLaren said: “Our research has shown that while health spending and staffing levels per head in Scotland appear to be greater than in England, we are not experiencing the improved health outcomes that might have been hoped would have followed.

“This could be due to worsening needs in Scotland relative to England, for example due to differing behavioural patterns, but at present it is difficult to convert any such higher needs into extra costs.”

The report said smoking has declined in the past ten years but the number of smokers in Scotland “remains higher” than elsewhere in the UK.

The rate of deaths linked to alcohol is more than double the rate in England, the study added.

“Greater comparability of UK health needs, health systems and behavioural patterns is required, along with the incorporation of lessons to be learnt from international evidence,” Mr McLaren said. “This research should be conducted with an eye to what potential savings or reductions in demand, with regards to future health budgets, might be possible.”

The Scottish Government said health was not improving quickly enough but said parts of the report were “ill-informed”.

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