By Bill Heaney

Scottish Labour has accused the SNP of the ‘wrong priorities’, as the party can reveal the £8.5 million bill for health spin across the country’s health boards and the Scottish Government – with the figure for health boards alone rising by almost £1m in only a year.

The cost of spin across all 14 territorial and 8 special health boards have been released to Scottish Labour through Freedom of Information legislation and outline eye-watering figures of almost £7.5 million.

Those employed within the Scottish Government communications department with duties involving the health and social care portfolio also carry a wage bill of over £1 million across almost 37 whole time equivalent staff.

These figures for healthcare spin are also likely to be an underestimate as they are based on the lowest points within pay bands and do not take account of staff who are at higher levels within their pay bandings.

The headline stats include five health boards with bills of over £500,000 and almost £118,000 for three staff members at The State Hospital where there are just 140 beds.

Under-fire health board, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, which has been spying on bereaved families is spending at least £667,406 on 13 staff and one recently advertised vacancy. The board have also paid £15,000 a year to US firm Meltwate, for investigation software.

Although there are fewer health board corporate communications staff than at this time last year, the wage bill has increased by over £880,000 equating to a rise of 13 percent.

In comparison, the average wage rise for individual NHS staff, including nurses, midwives, paramedics, allied health professionals, porters and others over the last year was 6.5 percent.

Scottish Labour’s health and social care spokesperson, Jackie Baillie said: “It is absolutely disgraceful that over £8.5million is being ploughed into an army of spin doctors while our health service is on its knees.

“A&E waits continue to be high, one in seven Scots are on an NHS waiting list and there is a recruitment crisis on the frontline in our NHS. We don’t need more spin, we need proper investment in staff who are dealing with patients.

“Of course, people need to know what is happening in their area, what services they can expect to access and any urgent changes to this but this level of investment in so-called communications is outrageous.

“Indeed, in some cases, bosses of these departments are earning just shy of £100,000. This is unjustifiable when staff on the frontline are working long shifts but struggling to put food on the table during a cost of living crisis.

“This is a government with the wrong priorities. It is time we stripped back on the spinners and invested properly in the hard-working staff at the coal face who continue to support our NHS while being failed by the SNP.”

Top picture: Dame Jackie Baillie outside the Golden Jubilee Hospital in West Dunbartonshire.

Staff employed Wage Bill 

(June 2023)

Wage Bill

(May 2022)

NHS Ayrshire & Arran 5.1 (WTE) £218,641.90 £174,552
NHS Borders 6 £201,846 £192,880*
NHS Dumfries & Galloway 5 £186,755 £174,497
NHS Fife 10 £362,672 £295,167
NHS Forth Valley 4 £161,063 £146,361
NHS Grampian 8 full time, 3 part time £386,896.50* £321,529*
NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde 14 (including one recently advertised post) £667,406 £538,309
NHS Highland 7 £299,696.80 £270,288*
NHS Lanarkshire 15 £632,709 £524,989
NHS Lothian 10 £435,762 £451,453
NHS Orkney & NHS Shetland 3 £98,289 £73,651
NHS Tayside 7.6 (WTE) £283,187.20 £252,193
NHS Western Isles 2 £105,116 £93,802
Healthcare Improvement Scotland 15 £600,163 £576,879
The State Hospital 3 £117,450 £50,965
NHS Education for Scotland 18 £658,947 £509,460
NHS24 13.4 (WTE) £586,316.80 £433,744
Public Health Scotland 7 WTE permanent, 1.6 temporary £368,776** £364,550
NHS National Services Scotland 12 staff, 5 vacancies £498,560 £629,746*
Golden Jubilee 8 £342,949 £301,276
Scottish Ambulance Service 5 £249,951 £229,402
TOTAL 183.1 (plus 3 part time and 1.6 temporary) £7,463,153.20 £6,605,693
Scottish Government Health and Social Care Departments 36.9 WTE £1,073,864 N/A
TOTAL 220 £8,537,017.20 N/A

The lowest banding has been used for calculation and this is therefore the minimum amount paid on salaries. Some staff are likely to be paid at higher levels within pay bands, and employers will also incur pensions and national insurance contributions. The overall bill is therefore likely to be higher.

*Part time staff have been calculated at half pay.

**An average has been taken as there are 10 permanent members of staff working in 7 WTE roles.

When these same freedom of information requests were sent to the health boards last year in May 2022 the total wage bill for corporate communications was at least £6,605,693 –  equivalent to a 13 percent increase.

NHS pay rise announcement by the Scottish Government, March 2023 –,in%20pay%20in%202023%2D24.

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