Health Matters

Baillie turns up the heat on new Health Minister

By Lucy Ashton

Baillie Jackie MSP fishingMSP Jackie Baillie has called for improvements in A & E waiting times as the latest figures show that NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde has been below the target performance for almost three years.

The Scottish Government has an interim target of 95% of patients being admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours of arriving at an A&E department.

New figures from ISD Scotland show that NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has not reached that target for almost three years.  The last time that the Health Board managed to achieve the target was in July 2015.

Jackie Baillie, pictured right,  said: “This once again shows us that the SNP’s priority is not with our NHS. Staff are being under resourced and overworked. Our patients are not being given the service they deserve through the SNP Government’s mismanagement of our health service.

“It is increasingly important that there is investment in our GP Out of Hours service, the Minor Injuries service and the Medical Assessment Unit at the Vale of Leven hospital so that people who can be dealt with locally and are not sent unnecessarily to A&E.

“This failure to meet waiting times has been going on for far too long and it is time for the SNP Government to apologise for this neglect of our most important public service. Investment in local services, alongside A&E must be put in place to ensure that people receive the best treatment as quickly as possible.”

The SNP Government has failed to tackle delayed discharge in the NHS and, since Nicola Sturgeon became First Minister, the delays have cost NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde more than £55 million.

Outgoing Health Secretary Shona Robison vowed to eliminate delayed discharge in 2015 but has not managed to make any improvements to the number of patients who are having to spend more time than necessary in hospital awaiting care packages to go home or into nursing homes.

Jackie Baillie said: “It is a travesty that nothing has been done to eradicate what is one of the biggest problems in our Health Service. Not only are the delays costing our hospitals money, we also know that patients recover more quickly in a homelier environment.

“A key part of the problem is the cuts that councils are facing in their budgets which means that the pressure to access the services needed for patients is under significant strain.

“The new Health Secretary Jeanne Freeman has to take this up as a matter of urgency. These delays are additional pressures that our staff and patients do not need.”

The consolidated financial reports released by the Scottish Government show that health boards across Scotland are set to experience funding gaps of £131 million. With NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde expected to have a gap of £29.5 million by the end of 2018/19.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde is currently £9.4 million overspent and financial estimates expect this figure to rise by more than £20 million in the next year alone.

The chronic underfunding of the NHS has put the service in Scotland at breaking point. Patients are waiting longer and longer for treatment, A&E waiting times are not meeting targets and delayed discharge is costing the taxpayer millions of pounds. NHS staff are under-resourced, overworked and under paid.

Jackie said: “It is worrying that already this year we are seeing that Greater Glasgow and Clyde is £9.4 million pounds in the red with that figure expected to rise to £29.5 million by the end of the year.

“This raises questions about the SNP’s financial management of our Health Boards and the issue of serious underfunding of our health services.

“Patients deserve better, staff deserve better and questions need to be answered about what services are being cut as a result of the SNP’s financial mismanagement of our NHS.”

Official statistics have shown that more than 150 people, across Greater Glasgow and Clyde, suspected of having cancer have had to wait longer than 62 days from referral to treatment in the first three months of 2018 alone.

Jeanne Freeman and Shona Robison, of SNP.

Under the SNP Scottish Government, the target is that 95% of patients urgently referred with a suspicion of cancer should wait no longer than 62 days from referral to their first treatment. But, in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, performance was way below that target at just 81%. That is a drop of 2% on last year’s performance which was also below target.

The figures also show that 120 patients had to wait longer than the 31-day standard for treatment to begin after doctors decided to treat them. This means that 7% of patients had to wait longer than needed despite doctors agreeing to treat them for cancer.

Jackie Baillie said: “Cancer remains Scotland’s biggest killer, and swift treatment can have a dramatic effect on outcomes for patients. But instead of receiving the urgent care they need, patients are being let down time and time again by this Scottish Government.

“One person waiting too long for treatment is one too many, but there are hundreds of patients waiting too long across Greater Glasgow and Clyde, and thousands across Scotland. That is simply not good enough.

“The reality is that this SNP Government has left our NHS under resourced, and left our NHS staff over-worked and underpaid. Let’s hope our new Health Secretary can make a real difference for those patients who desperately need it to get better.”

Freedom of Information responses released by Scottish Labour have shown that NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde have been spending up to £103.03 per hour on locum doctors to cover GP out of hours shifts.

GP out of hours’ services across the board area have been closed to patients in recent weeks due to insufficient cover. But in a desperate bid to cover this service the NHS board has been forced to spend more than £100 per hour on locum doctors.

The NHS across Scotland is facing significant problems with underfunding. Staff are being over worked, and underpaid and health boards are being forced to run their NHS with dwindling funds.

Jackie Bailie said: “The GP out of hours’ service is one of the most basic services available to patients. We have known for months that the health board has been struggling to cover these shifts due to more attractive terms and conditions being made available by other health board areas. But the revelation that locum doctors are costing upwards of £100 per hour is a real shock.

“Patients deserve to know that the services they need are accessible whenever they need them but they shouldn’t have to expect our NHS to be paying through the nose to cover them.

“Our NHS is 70 this year, and it is desperately under-resourced and in crisis. It’s time this SNP Government treated the NHS with the respect it deserves.”

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