NEWS

The Scottish Executive's surprise announcement of£200m to fund free personal care for elderly people was widely welcomed last week, but has not alleviated concerns about implementation of the Sutherland report north of the border.

Catriona Renfrew, director for commissioning for Greater Glasgow health board, warned in a leaked letter to the Care Development Group, that 'it is profoundly depressing that new monies for older people's care directed to implement Sutherland will offer no opportunity to address the substantial deficits in services we can currently see, either in terms of additional volume or quality.'

The letter also warns that many more people may claim free personal care than are presently paying for care in nursing homes, such as those caring for relatives at home, leading to further financial strain on the NHS in the future.

The British Medical Association welcomed the£200m package.

But it echoed the concerns voiced by Scottish opposition parties that other health budgets had been raided in order to release the finances.

Dr John Garner, chair of the BMA's Scottish council, said the Scottish Parliament 'should be congratulated on the way that they have spoken up for older people in Scotland'.

But he said that the Executive's allocation of an extra£31m for health services over three years on top of the£200m allocation was 'rather paltry'.

He added: 'Of more concern, however, are plans to find savings of£55m in a budget that is already severely overstretched.'