HEALTH MATTERS

Local patients left in pain as hospital waiting times grow exponentially

Neil Findlay, Jackie Baillie, Nicola Sturgeon and Jeane Freeman

By Bill Heaney

Dumbarton and Lomond constituency MSP, Jackie Baillie, has called on the Scottish Government to take action as new figures reveal that their flagship waiting time law has been broken 12,737 times so far in 2018 in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

In 2012, the SNP introduced the Treatment Time Guarantee, which gave patients a legal right to treatment within 12 weeks for conditions such as knee and eye operations.

But figures released this week by ISD Scotland show that 4,110 patients between July and September this year had waited more than 12 weeks.

The shock figures come just a month after the SNP Health Secretary Jeane Freeman confirmed the government plans to continue failing patients by breaking its own law until 2021 at the earliest.

  Jackie Baillie said: “The SNP introduced this law as a promise to the people of Scotland that they would have a legal right to treatment within 12 weeks.

“That promise to the people of Greater Glasgow and Clyde has now been broken 12,737 times in 2018 so far.

“Patients are being left in pain or distress waiting desperately to get the treatment that they need.

“And hardworking NHS staff are simply not getting the support that they need from the government to do their job.

“Staff are at breaking point. The forthcoming budget must give our NHS staff the resources that they need.”

There were further problems for the Health Board when the Cowlairs Decontamination Unit, which deals with sterilisation of surgical instruments was forced to the close.

Conservative MSP Annie Wells said: “The closure of Cowlairs decontamination unit in Springburn led to the cancellation of more than 700 operations, some of them major, across hospitals in NHS Glasgow and Clyde.

“A whistle-blower stated to the newspapers this week that, had the closure and a large-scale incident occurred simultaneously, hospitals would not have been able to cope.

“The unit has reopened on a phased basis only. Can the First Minister assure me that patients will receive alternative arrangements as soon as possible, and will she outline the action that will be taken to prevent the situation from happening again?”

The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon replied: “I can give that assurance. The board of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde is already working hard to ensure that patients whose operations were cancelled as a result of the closure get alternative arrangements as quickly as possible.

“It was a very regrettable situation, but steps were taken as quickly as possible to rectify it. As the member said, Cowlairs opened again on Tuesday, but all appropriate steps will be taken to ensure that such a situation is never allowed to recur.”

Neil Findlay, the Lothian MSP, referred to a BBC Panorama programme which investigated the situation regarding concerns of Medical Devices and Implants.

He said: “This week, Panorama exposed serious failings in the regulation and testing of medical devices and implants.

“This is a global issue and dozens of countries are affected. It is clear that the system in the United Kingdom, the European Union and across the world is not fit for purpose. As a positive step, will the Scottish Government now introduce a register of all implants?”

Nicola Sturgeon replied: “We are happy to give consideration to anything that lies within our power. As the member is aware, the regulation of these devices is a reserved matter. Responsibility lies with the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, and we have written to it on more than one occasion asking for it to take action.

“However, as we have done with mesh implants, we will continue to look at what we can do within our powers. I will ask the health secretary to look into the specific suggestion and write to the member in due course.”

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