A FIFE councillor has called for cash due to be returned to the Scottish Government to be used to address Fife's current health crisis.

Graeme Downie, who is a member of the Fife Health and Social Care Board, has written to health secretary Humza Yousaf asking that the £20m set to go back is allocated to addressing issues in the Kingdom.

He said he has raised the issue at previous meetings of the Fife Integrated Joint Board (IJB) and feels their hands are being tied by the SNP Scottish Government in Edinburgh.

“Fife health and social care services are facing a crisis, we are seeing it every day in the news and our own experiences of friends and family," he said. "The Health Secretary says Covid is one of the causes of the problems yet the SNP Scottish Government is taking back over £20m of money allocated for Covid spend in Fife. That is a scandal when that money could be used now to help address some of the problems Covid is still causing in our health services.”

“Surely it is common sense to allow Fife Health & Social Care Partnership to spend that money now to help address the current problems we are facing.”

“For example, why not use that money to hire short-term staff to deal with the challenges Covid still presents, at least helping prevent burnout of current staff and give them help they deserve?”

“The crisis we are facing is partly caused by Covid and winter health pressures but doctors and health staff will tell you that those pressures are merely bringing to light structural problems that already existed.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said cash being returned will be used across a wider system to deal with coronavirus pressures.

“Most Integrated Joint Board reserves are earmarked for specific purposes, in particular the ongoing response to COVID-19, and cannot be used to fund other spending commitments," they said. "The papers show plans for £15.7 million of this reserve, with £20.3 million unused for its intended purpose.

“All funding returned to Scottish Government will be utilised across the wider system for Covid pressures, as discussed with the sector. Further Covid funding has not been available from the UK Government for Covid related pressures in 2022/23.

“The Scottish Government has set out £600 million to support winter resilience across our health and care system, increasing social care funding by at least 25 per cent by the end of this Parliament, and laying the groundwork for the establishment of a National Care Service.”