§ 17. Mr. Kennedy
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has any plans to increase the funding allocations to health boards; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Michael Forsyth
An additional £12.7 million has been allocated to the National Health Service in Scotland to cover the extra cost of this year's nurses' clinical regrading. This brings the total of additional funding to cover the cost of review body pay awards to £104.7 million. After taking account of centrally funded expenditure, the additional sum distributed to health boards amounts to £93.4 million.
§ Mr. Kennedy
Will the Minister take on board the fact that in the Highland health board area, and no doubt in every other health board area in Scotland, many nurses are deeply concerned about the proposed clinical regrading and will be appealing against the grades that they have been allocated? Will he also bear in mind that in the Highland health board area specifically, many patients, 305 particularly on Skye and the west coast and in the more rural or isolated communities, find it very difficult to cope with the changes in patient expenses for travelling to the centre of excellence in Raigmore hospital? Does he accept that that is a financially based problem for the health board in which he should have legitimate interest, with a view to further funding?
§ Mr. Forsyth
I have asked the Highland health board to reimburse patients for the costs incurred, and I regret that that was not done over a period of some months. I have asked the board to see that money is made available to any patients who were not treated fairly.
The hon. Gentleman must appreciate that under the Government nurses' pay has risen by 44 per cent. in real terms, while the Labour Government cut it by 20 per cent. If nurses are concerned about their grading, there is an appeal process. However, I am entitled to point out that the majority of sisters in hospitals in Scotland will have a pay rise of between £2,000 and £3,000 a year. By any standard, that is a major contribution to the Health Service and a major recognition of their work. What a pity that the hon. Gentleman cannot bring himself to recognise that.