Cost pressures are putting the financial sustainability of NHS services at risk, auditors have warned.
Audit Scotland’s assessment of the NHS recovery plan said it lacked detailed actions and noted delays in establishing new national treatment centres.
The recovery plan was launched by Health Secretary Humza Yousaf in August 2021, setting out investment over the next five years to restore the NHS to its pre-pandemic levels and “beyond”.
Auditor general Stephen Boyle told Holyrood’s Public Audit Committee on Thursday morning that progress towards recovery was proving “extremely difficult”.
He said: “NHS finances remain under severe pressure in spite of growing health spending.
“Rising inflation, increasing recurring pay pressures and ongoing Covid-19-related costs cast doubt on the financial stability of health services.”
The backlog in care caused by the pandemic “continues to grow”, he said.
Mr Boyle added: “The recovery plan lacks detailed actions that would allow progress to be measured.”
Leigh Johnston, a senior manager at Audit Scotland, said there were still “flashing red lights” in areas of NHS performance.
She added: “Activity is still below pre-pandemic levels.”
Audit Scotland’s report said that of Scotland’s 14 territorial health boards, only three are breaking even.
It also said: “There have been delays in opening three new national treatment a centres – a key element in increasing activity levels in planned care.
“Delays in getting social care support for patients who are ready to leave hospital continue to limit the availability of beds.”
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