SNP Government under fire over 'snail's pace' rollout of long Covid funding

·2-min read
SNP Health Secretary Humza Yousaf
SNP Health Secretary Humza Yousaf

SNP ministers have been accused of failing to act at the “pace and scale required” to support people with long Covid amid a funding row.

Health Secretary Humza Yosuaf has been criticised for labelling £3 million of money as “additional funding”, despite being announced in September last year as part of a £10m package.

Labour’s Jackie Baillie warned Mr Yousaf that “not a single penny has yet been used to treat and support those” suffering with long Covid since it was announced eight months ago.

Mr Yousaf told MSPs that long Covid has have a “significant impact” on people’s lives.

In announcing the “extra resource”, he said that he was “allocating additional funding, and I stress that word additional funding, of £3m to health boards across 22-23 to bolster the support they're already providing to people with long Covid”.

He added: “This response directly to the needs highlighted by boards and their learning from supporting people with long Covid since the start of the pandemic.”

After being asked by Ms Baillie to confirm if the £3m is part of the already-announced money, Mr Yousaf said: “it’s part of that £10m fund.”

He added: “What I mean by additional is that it is on top of what has already been spent to help to address and alleviate some of the symptoms that sufferers of long Covid are suffering from.”

Ms Baillie, who is Labour’s health spokesperson, warned that “we now have baby steps being taken”, adding that “snails move at a faster pace”.

She said: “The £10m announced for long Covid treatment last year has actually still to be spent. Not a single penny has yet been used to treat and support those with the condition.

“Not a single health board has received any money so far. They all got a letter today notifying them of funding in time for this debate.

“The Cabinet Secretary knows that the NHS is stretched to breaking point – it is at crisis. You are asking them to do even more with the little money you give and the £10m announced months ago you have not put out to help them put in place service that are required. Shame on you.”

She added: “And it’s £10m over three years which works out as a paltry £33 per person per year. In England at least £210m has been announced. Why is the scale of the SNP’s ambition so much less?

“Health is fully devolved. It is not that the Scottish Government cannot act but that it simply won’t at the pace and scale required.

“The truth is that the SNP are simply not serious about helping those with long Covid recover.”

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