NEWS this week that all NHS building projects in Scotland have been put on hold is another worrying blow to our struggling health services.

For the Lothians, this affects the new cancer centre, due to be completed in 2023, and the new Eye Pavilion, highlighted last year as ‘top priority’. These necessary health facilities were planned to reduce ever-increasing waiting lists. Unless we are fortunate enough to opt for private healthcare, thousands will have no option but to wait longer for necessary care. Our National Health Service is becoming a national health lottery.

Older people are particularly vulnerable. For those without close family nearby, the support of the health and social care service is invaluable. With our ageing population, the cost of medical care is going to escalate.

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The squeezed middle high earners will be forgiven if they see this as an increasing burden. With higher taxes and National Insurance, they may feel they are working to fund not only their own health services but also those of the older population. While their own retirement age is being kicked into the long grass, they may be feeling disenfranchised to say the least.

During the pandemic, elderly and vulnerable people were approached by medical practices to discuss a ‘living will’. Did they want to sign a DNR (do not resuscitate) instruction on their medical notes? What do you want to happen if a critical situation arises? Would you feel obliged to sign the form, not as your wish, but to assist others? One elderly relative did sign, as she didn’t want to “be a burden”. A severely disabled friend refused to sign: “You’re not getting rid of me that easily!”

Don’t get me wrong, this is a vital conversation to have. All good business managers have an eye on their ‘exit strategy’. I advise we all speak with our health providers, families and lawyers, and have our preferred exit strategy legally recorded. Don’t risk that with further stretched budgets, they do it for us.