Government austerity measures since 2010 have impacted healthcare across the UK.

Holyrood is the administrator for NHS funds in Scotland but the Scottish Government has struggled to mitigate the impact of Westminster cuts.

In the short-term they’ve had limited successes in keeping various healthcare plates spinning in the air — but with no clear end to cuts in sight, they might soon come crashing down.

So here are three ways austerity is impacting health in Scotland and an overview of the stakeholders combating cuts.

Economy

Prior to Scottish GDP figures being released in early July, the mainstream media was awash with warnings that the economy was on the brink of recession.

Yet organs like the BBC were forced to flip their doomsday scripts overnight when it was revealed that GDP had grown by 0.8 per cent — outperforming the UK as a whole.

But national statistics don’t reflect the challenges faced by those struggling regions where the economic picture isn’t so rosy.

The downturn in the oil and gas industry has led to a 50 per cent rise in unemployment in North-East Scotland — with a serious knock-on effect on mental health.

The Scottish Association of Mental Health’s Open Up campaign encourages residents in affected communities to openly discuss mental health problems — and helps them find sources of support.

In terms of the employment rate the high level picture is healthy in Scotland —but figures are partially propped up by part-time roles and zero hour contracts.

And workers in precarious employment are also facing rising rents — so it’s crucial to read between the lines with Scottish employment statistics.

Mental health

A report from the mental Welfare Commission in April revealed that even as austerity pressurised NHS mental health services, staff shortages in mixed psychiatric wards made female patients feel unsafe.

The Scottish Government pledged to spend £300 million recruiting 800 new mental health staff over the next five years to plug the gap.

This might present an opportunity for mental health nurses with diplomas to take online distance learning degrees that upgrade their skillsets for senior positions.

But the NHS across the UK is haemorrhaging skilled overseas staff because of Brexit.

Welfare reform

The Welfare reform Acts of 2012 and 2016 have had a huge impact on some of Britain’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens.

A UN report in late 2016 confirmed that these reforms show ‘grave or systematic violations of the rights of persons with disabilities’.

And the study also highlighted the cultural shift that means disabled Britons and other disadvantaged groups are cast as scapegoats for Britain’s economic woes.

Holyrood has spent £396 million over the past five years mitigating Westminster policies such as the bedroom tax — while their budget was slashed by £5 billion.

And Westminster Welfare cuts mean another £2 billion has disappeared from the Scottish economy as those affected save the little cash they have, rather than spending in shops.

Austerity has affected Scotland in similar ways to the rest of the nation. But it’s unclear whether the Scottish Government’s mitigation measures constitute a sticking plaster solution rather than a permanent cure.

Have you experienced the effects of austerity in Scotland? Share your stories in the comments section.

 

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