Health / Lib Dems opposed to health board centralisation proposals

PROPOSALS by Labour to amalgamate Scotland’s 14 health boards into three to save on bureaucracy and duplication has been condemned as a “serious risk” to Shetland and its health care needs by local MSP Beatrice Wishart.

The Lib Dem MSP for Shetland said that any move towards centralisation of health care would weaken local community health care services.

Kicking off an election year, Scottish Labour floated the idea of reducing the number of health boards amidst concern about hospital capacity and staff shortages this winter.

The Tories and indeed the SNP said they were not against discussing the idea as long as the needs of rural health services were not overlooked.

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart. Photo: Shetland News

However, the Lib Dems have now come out strongly against the idea and said any move towards centralisation would undermine local decision making.

“Running the health service from Inverness, Aberdeen or even Dundee, with distant headquarters and different priorities, will weaken the delivery of local community healthcare services that best suit local areas,” Wishart said.


She said Scottish Lib Dems were the only party to oppose the police service centralisation a few years ago.

“We should learn from the damage of centralisation of that service and not repeat those mistakes,” Wishart said.

“We are focused on bringing decision-making and services closer to the people that are served by them.

“Health boards need the freedom to innovate and find the best means to serve their community.

“Liberal Democrats trust our clinicians and local health teams to do what’s right for their areas. We should be harnessing their expertise and empowering people locally, allowing for reform and innovation from the bottom up as needed.”

It is not the first time that structural reform of NHS boards has been looked at to improve efficiency and outcomes for patients.

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A NHS Education study into large scale structural change, carried out in 2015, could not found clear evidence either way.

However, the study found that: “There is substantial evidence to suggest that highly centralised and hierarchical organisational structures are likely to have dysfunctional effects, and that adaptive, more organic, organisational structures are more conducive to better performance in uncertain, unstable environments.”

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