Local MSP Finlay Carson has written to Health Secretary Shona Robison calling for an independent, root and branch review of health provision in the region.
The calls come amidst concerns over the level of funding the region receives from the National Funding Formula (NRAC) which sets much of the budget for health boards in Scotland.
Carson has raised concerns over the extent to which the current formula takes account of the needs of rural health boards. He has questioned the use of postcodes as an identifier of areas of deprivation, suggesting it is inadequate for rural areas such as Dumfries and Galloway.
Health provision in the region has been in the spotlight after Galloway Community Hospital in Stranraer was forced to temporarily close a ward and downgrade it’s Accident & Emergency department due to staffing shortages.
Letter to Cabinet Secretary for Health, Shona Robison:
Dear Cabinet Secretary,
I am contacting you in light of concerns raised over the delivery of services at the Galloway Community Hospital, following a short-term staffing issue which caused the temporary downgrading of the Accident and Emergency, and temporary closure of one of the two wards.
This poses a greater question over the delivery of health services across Dumfries and Galloway, and barriers which may stand in the way of ensuring long-term, equitable services for my constituents across the region.
There are real concerns that decisions around health service delivery in Dumfries and Galloway are focussed on business needs rather than on patient outcomes.
As elected representatives, we all want to deliver the very best for our constituents. I am sure that you will agree that the residents of Dumfries and Galloway deserve equity and equality of health services in line with the rest of Scotland.
I understand that a funding formula (NRAC) is used to allocate around 70% of the total NHS budget and is overseen by TAGRA. I however, do not believe that the current funding formula provides sufficient consideration of the future needs of rural health boards. Given changes to patient treatment pathways and the method of identifying areas of depravation (i.e. postcode areas), which I believe are not fit for purpose in a large rural area such as Dumfries and Galloway, do you believe that rural health boards are sufficiently funded via this formula and do you have any plans to review this formula?
To ensure that Dumfries and Galloway Health Board have the required funding to delivering a fair and equitable service across the region which is in line with the rest of Scotland I request that you initiate an external independent root and branch review of health provision in this region.
I would welcome your comments and look forward to working with you to achieve these objectives.