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Last Updated: Sunday, 11 September 2005, 16:29 GMT 17:29 UK
Minister insists NHS is improving
Health Minister Andy Kerr
Mr Kerr says not all health activity is being recorded
The health minister has insisted the nation's health service is improving, despite admitting concern at analysis which showed a lack of improvement.

The Scottish Executive's response to a Holyrood committee report, agreed with concerns raised by MSPs over an apparent decline in NHS activity.

But Health Minister Andy Kerr warned current information on health did not give the complete picture.

He said an increase in work outside hospitals was not yet fully recorded.

However, in its soon to be released response to the publication, the executive agreed with the committee's concerns.

The report, published earlier this year, said an apparent decline in NHS activity was "particularly concerning given the high levels of investment in recent years and the record numbers of staff in the system".

The executive response stated: "The department shares the committee's concern about the apparent decline in activity set against the high levels of investment, and increased staff resources, while pointing out that recorded activity may lag behind actual activity."

Whatever the statistics say, Scotland's health is getting better and so is our health service
Andy Kerr
Health Minister

The committee added that it was "very concerned" that on current evidence "some key service areas may cost more and deliver less".

Ministers responded: "The department is working to improve the quality and consistency of expenditure and cost information across boards, hospitals, and specialties and is developing new methods for analysing the disease/condition costs to allow better informed analyses of the apparent cost differences to take place."

But Mr Kerr said: "Whatever the statistics say, Scotland's health is getting better and so is our health service."

Community units

He explained: "More and more services are being delivered closer to home, not in big hospitals, but in local health clinics, GP surgeries and community units."

The minister said GPs and nurses were now undertaking minor surgery, such as treating skin lesions or wart removal, which used to only be done in hospitals.

"All this change is good news for the patient, but it's not being fully recorded yet," he said.

"What we get is an apparent decline in hospital-based work, without the rise in work elsewhere to balance that."

Mr Kerr said new ways to obtain information on health activity were being drawn up for the future.

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