First Minister Humza Yousaf has warned “difficult decisions” will need to be made in next year’s Scottish budget to meet the Government’s ambitions to boost wages for social care and childcare workers. 

Commenting on his statement, Sir Tom Hunter said: “It’s very worrying that, due to an aging population in Scotland, we have a demographic time bomb. It’s why we need positive immigration in this country. 

“We’ve pensions and healthcare and social care to take care of. However, if the economy was a business, we’ve a top line of about £50 billion. So, I say to the Scottish Government that’s a huge amount of money and I’d challenge them: it’s not a numbers problem you have, it’s an allocation problem.

“The health and social care share is creeping up to about 40% of that budget. That is growing and, quite rightly, nobody’s talking about cutting it. However, it’s time to look at the actual outputs. 

“We’re spending £19 billion on the NHS, which is a huge sum of money. What are the outputs for the people on the waiting lists? What are we getting for our money?

“Rather than say: ‘Oh, we need more money and we need to put taxes up!’, let’s have the Government look at what they get for their cash. Any other business would have to do this.”

Lord Haughey noted: “In UK terms, the NHS is this huge super-tanker that takes forever to turn. The only answer for the NHS is to break it into smaller fragments where it’s easily manageable, where you can make changes. I don’t think with the way it is at the moment you could do that.”

Sir Tom urged Ministers to listen to people who really understand what’s going on in NHS.

“It’s not the middle managers, it’s the people, the practitioners, the nurses – they have the answers but is anybody actually listening to them?” 

Lord Haughey concluded: “Centralisation hasn’t worked in Scotland. I honestly believe one of the ways of getting Scotland really on its feet here would be a look at more regional control for many public bodies.”