Health boards are spending millions of pounds every year on private security, and the figure is rising.
Research has revealed outsourced security provision has cost the NHS more than £16.5 million in the past five years.
This is despite repeated rhetoric from the SNP government that it doesn’t want private contracts within Scotland’s health service.
Statistics obtained by the Scottish Conservatives through Freedom of Information showed the figure for last year was £3.91 million, continuing a rising trend down the years.
In their responses, health boards said there were a variety of reasons for the spending.
Some were being forced to protect disused sites, while others continue to spend millions due to being locked into crippling PFI contracts.
Other health boards, like NHS Grampian, stated they didn’t use any private security at all, dealing with all such matters in-house.
In the last five years, NHS Lothian has paid almost £7 million to controversial PFI partners Consort, as well as firms G4S and Profile.
NHS Lanarkshire recorded the second highest spend, with £5.19 million since 2013/14, largely thanks to PFI arrangements at Hairmyres and Wishaw hospitals.
In Greater Glasgow and Clyde, health chiefs attributed an increasing spend on the fact many buildings had closed down for the transfer to the new Queen Elizabeth campus, meaning disused sites required round-the-clock protection.
They added that other out-of-hours GP services needed “an ongoing security presence”.
But other large health boards resisted using private firms, with bosses in Aberdeen stating: “All security staff used by NHS Grampian are employed by NHS Grampian.”
Scottish Conservative chief whip Maurice Golden said:
“The SNP never stops talking about how it despises the use of private companies when it comes to our NHS.
“Yet here we see, under its watch, spiralling costs when it comes to private security firms.
“From the party that warned a No vote in 2014 would lead to the collapse of the NHS in Scotland because of privatisation, this is quite the hypocrisy.
“It’s another example of the SNP saying one thing to please its supporters, but doing quite another in government.
“Of course, these firms provide a valuable service to health boards and keep patients, staff and taxpayer-owned property safe.
“But it’s clear from this research that some major health boards don’t need to use private firms, which shows this is a choice rather than a necessity.
“It just means the next time the nationalists complain about private firms working in our health service, no-one will take them seriously.”
Notes to editors:
Below is a breakdown of NHS spending on private security in Scotland:
2013/14 - £2.80m
2014/15 - £3.01m
2015/16 - £3.34m
2016/17 - £3.46m
2017/18 - £3.91m
Total - £16.52m
Below is a nationwide breakdown over the past five years:
Ayrshire and Arran – 0
Borders – 0
Dumfries and Galloway - £0.31m
Fife – 0
Forth Valley – refused to answer
Grampian – 0
Greater Glasgow and Clyde - £2.60m
Highland - £0.34m
Lanarkshire - £5.19m
Lothian - £6.98m
Orkney – 0
Shetland – 0
Tayside - £1.10m
Total - £16.53m