Published: 10/02/2005, Volume II5, No. 5942 Page 8

Almost two thirds of the extra cash given to NHS boards in Scotland for the next financial year will be taken up with funding pay deals, the Scottish NHS Confederation has warned.

In addition, boards will have to contend with the financial impact of programmes such as Modernising Medical Careers, said director Hilary Robertson.

Last Friday Scottish health and community care minister Andy Kerr announced that boards would receive an average 7.6 per cent rise in their revenue allocation, taking it to£6bn overall. Funding for the new general medical services contract and dentists' pay has still to be finalised.

Mr Kerr said the investment would help the NHS in the drive to modernise services and deliver care in better, faster ways.

There will also be extra, unspecified payments for boards which meet certain performance targets, including a drop in waiting times, based on their position at the end of December 2004.

But Ms Robertson said that boards anxious to pursue and deliver service redesign and improvement faced competing demands, including pay modernisation and increased prescribing costs.

She said: 'An estimated 60 per cent of NHS boards' uplift in 2005-06 is likely to be spent on pay alone.' Hospital boards were upbeat, however. NHS Lothian chief executive James Barbour said it was 'welcome news... and will allow us to continue driving forward our programme to modernise the health service'.

NHS Greater Glasgow director of finance Wendy Hull said the board's 7 per cent uplift was 'needed to enable NHS Greater Glasgow to meet many national targets and key priorities such as the rise in prescribing costs and the implementation of Agenda for Change'.