Last week the UK Government announced that Scotland would benefit from an additional £2 billion of funding for public services through the Barnett Formula. In essence the Barnett Formula works by distributing money on a per capita basis, therefore, any increase in public spending in England has to be matched in Scotland. So when the Prime Minister announced an extra £20 billion for nurses and doctors south of the border a percentage share of this works its way to Scotland.

You would think that news of a significant funding boost for public services would be universally welcomed. Alas no. The Scottish Government poured cold water on it, claiming that the “devil would be in the detail”. That’s fine, after all it is their job to maintain the “Westminster-bad, Holyrood-good” myth.

However, putting party-politics aside this is clearly good news for embattled public services and it’s important that the areas of greatest need receive the most funding. As a result, we have called on the first minister to ring-fence this money for healthcare as is being done in England. So far, she has refused to do so despite NHS Boards crying out for more cash in the wake of increased pressures.

Take Fife for example. In the past month it has emerged that lifeline out-of-hours services are being centralised at an alarming rate without proper community consultation. Locally, patients are outraged that fewer out-of-hours slots are being offered out-with the main population centres of Kirkcaldy and Dunfermline.

In St Andrews residents and GPs alike are aghast at the reduction in out-of-hours services as most people felt the service was working well. Out-of-hours services are often the first to go when health boards make cutbacks, but that doesn’t mean it’s right or in the best interest of patients. It is therefore incredibly important that this is reviewed and the views of patients are properly consulted. As a result, I have authored a joint letter alongside other Fife MSP’s calling for out-of-hours services to be reviewed.

However, where NHS Fife have legitimate concerns is when it comes to staffing. Officials have sighted a failure to attract GPs and nurses as a factor in reducing out-of-hours shifts. Staffing shortages and an inability to ensure patient safety is a problem and one that results in boards spending more for temporary staff. According to official statistics, spending on bank and agency nursing staff increased by 56% over the past five years resulting in an additional spend of £3.26 million.

Clearly, staffing pressures and reduced out-of-hours provision are part of the same equation and only proper workforce planning can solve it. Therefore, it is here where the Scottish Government must start and I would hope that in the coming weeks they see sense and earmark all of the additional Barnett Formula funding to our hard pressed hospitals and health centres.

AS ever Liz appreciates the feedback of constituents and can be contacted at 31 Canmore Street, Dunfermline or via email at