Why no access for us to the Golden Jubilee, MSP wants to know

MSP Jackie Baillie, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman and her predecessor Shona Robison.

By Lucy Ashton

Dumbarton Constituency MSP, Jackie Baillie, is disappointed that the new Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman, will not grant patients from the Vale of Leven, Dumbarton and Helensburgh direct access to the Golden Jubilee Hospital – despite the 12-week Treatment Time Guarantee being breached consistently across NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

Baillie wrote to the former Health Secretary, Shona Robison about the issue in May, and after several months and a change in Health Secretary, finally received a response from the new minister to advise that patients from Dumbarton, the Vale of Leven and Helensburgh would not be referred directly to the Golden Jubilee Hospital despite reports of patients waiting up to 52 weeks for orthopaedic and ophthalmology treatment.

The Golden Jubilee National Hospital is currently used to help NHS boards across Scotland deliver waiting times. Health Boards are offered spaces for a specific number of patients each year and hospitals prioritise which patients will make use of the spaces.

The MSP said: “Too many people in Dumbarton, the Vale of Leven and Helensburgh are waiting too long for treatment. Patients are being left in pain because hospitals are struggling to cope with the demand for treatment.

“The Golden Jubilee is right on our doorstep; it makes sense that patients should be able to make use of the facilities available there.

“I had hoped that the Cabinet Secretary would grant patients direct access to the hospital from our area, while waiting lists are unbearably long, but she has left it up to NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to decide which patients are a priority.

“Clearly this isn’t working as some patients are waiting for up to a year for treatment and patients from other health boards are being treated quicker. It is so frustrating because the Golden Jubilee is on our doorstep but I won’t give up the fight.”

Meanwhile, Ms Baillie, has urged the SNP Government to take action as the number of bed days lost to delayed discharge for patients from West Dunbartonshire increased by 25% and 16% for patients from Argyll and Bute in the month of August despite the SNP’s pledge to eradicate it.

New figures reveal that a total of 1,227 bed days were taken by patients from West Dunbartonshire and Argyll and Bute whose discharge from hospital had been delayed. 65% of the patients from Argyll and Bute who experienced delayed discharge were delayed for Health and Social Care reasons, and 82% of those from West Dunbartonshire were delayed for the same reason.

In 2015, the former Health Secretary, Shona Robison, pledged to eradicate delayed discharge within the year.

The MSP said: “The intolerable strain which is being put on NHS wards by the SNP’s mismanagement and under-funding of the health service is clear. It is unacceptable that delayed discharge rates have risen again, with hundreds of people being left in hospital beds despite being ready to go home.

“The SNP’s austerity policy of reducing council budgets over the last ten years is contributing to the vast majority of people being left in hospital as health and social care assessments are being delayed by a lack of funding and qualified staff.

“Our NHS is being crippled, it’s time the SNP Government took this seriously and addressed the problems for the benefit of patients and hardworking staff.”

The MSP has called for the Scottish Government to take action as a report has revealed that the life expectancy for men and women has fallen in Scotland for the first time in 35 years.

Despite an increase of 7.9 years for males and 5.8 years for females over the last 35 years, the life expectancy of those born most recently has actually decreased. Life expectancy for those born between 2015 – 2017 was 77.0 years for males and 81.1 years for females.

Scotland now has the lowest life expectancy rates of any part of the UK.

Jackie Baillie said: “It is simply unacceptable that life expectancy has fallen in Scotland for the first time in 35 years.

“It should be to the SNP’s shame that babies born in Scotland have a life expectancy which is shorter than their neighbours in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

“It is time that this SNP Government used the powers of the parliament to address poverty and health inequalities to ensure that life expectancy begins to increase again.”

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