The NHS in Scotland can look forward to increasing political scrutiny and battles over funding, according to experts at an Edinburgh conference last week.
Greater Glasgow health board chief executive Chris Spry warned that 'the spotlight of political accountability will shine more brightly' on the NHS in Scotland once the parliament comes into being next summer. He also warned delegates there would be 'a strong temptation' to reorganise the NHS in Scotland post-devolution. 'It is likely that parliament will want to consider how much of its precious resources should be spent on infrastructure,' he said.
Paul Jervis, visiting professor in organisation development at Middlesex University business school, said the arrival of 129 new members of the Scottish parliament could signal 'an explosion of concern' about their local hospitals. This 'parochialism' would not help the NHS, said Professor Jervis, who took part in a Nuffield Trust study of the impact of devolution on health earlier this year.
Jenny Stewart, director of PricewaterhouseCoopers, Scotland, said health currently represented 21 per cent of Scotland's budget. It would account for 32 per cent of the Scottish parliament's£14.5bn budget.
'With health making up almost one third of the new parliament's budget, there is no way that the NHS in Scotland is going to be left alone to get on with things quietly.'
Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond suggested the health service might be better funded when Scotland controlled its own resources.