EDINBURGH, October 31 (RIA Novosti), Mark Hirst – Scotland's failure to secure a Yes vote in last month's independence referendum and the subsequent lack of access to its own resources will make decisions on investing in the National Health Service (NHS) much more complicated, a leading Scottish consultant cancer surgeon told RIA Novosti on Friday.
"It is like solving a Rubik's cube — you need to create a bit of slack to allow movement by investing," Dr. Philippa Whitford told RIA Novosti. "That was something we would have had the power to do with independence and access to our own resources. We need to see what can be done with a shrinking budget as the Scottish funding is decreasing overall."
The surgeon's comments come after an independent watchdog, Audit Scotland, warned the NHS in Scotland is facing a funding crisis and that spending per capita has decreased in real terms over the past four years.
The auditors also found maintenance was needed across the entire NHS building estate that will take $1.370 billion to repair.
"We cannot ease pressure on hospitals until we invest in the development of primary and community care which would over time have an impact," Whitford said.
"We need to look at our organization as if we had a blank sheet of paper and think what is the best way to deliver the care and treatment people need, not how to hang on to buildings because we were born in them or worked in them," Whitford told RIA Novosti.
"Medical care is changing and we need to look at what way we can get the best treatment possible in the specialist units while delivering as much common treatment (including minor injuries) as close to people as possible," Whitford added.
Whitford said that more investment was also required in mental health and hinted there had been a failure to recognize this illness leads to other physical and social illness that the state ultimately needs to manage.
"The other area that requires investment is mental health which leads to a lot of physical and social illness. It is just very hard to manage change if you don't have a change fund to create that first bit of movement," Whitford told RIA Novosti.
"That said, we can't just go on as if there isn't an issue. We need to make the best we can of our resources," Whitford added.
The surgeon added that health policy had to be more connected than at present to ensure it addressed all the factors that lead to illness in the first place.
"We need to put health and well-being as a primary concern so that we look at every policy and consider the effect it will have on the health and well-being of the Scottish people such as work, poverty, active transport, school dinners, sport and physical education for children," Whitford said.
"All of this needs to be joined up so that we work towards helping people to have a healthy older age. Our problem at present is the multiple illnesses that people have," Whitford added.
In a statement Scottish Health Minister, Alex Neil responded, "Protecting frontline health services is a priority for this government and we will do this by increasing the NHS frontline budget despite cuts in the overall budget from Westminster".
"The NHS is not perfect, and we are always seeking to make improvements," he said.
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