MSP Jackie Baillie, Dumbarton care homes and testing centre.

By Democrat reporter

Jackie Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton, Vale of Leven, Helensburgh and Lomond, has raised serious concerns as new IDS figures shows the NHS in Scotland to be in crisis, prior to the Covid-19 crisis.

Ms Baillie has said that these figures further highlight the urgent need for a robust, long term NHS recovery plan to be put in place.

The problems that the health service had previously, despite the hard work of the staff, have only been made worse by the strain of the pandemic.

New statistics show that less than 70% of patients seen between January and March 2020 were treated within the 12-week Treatment Time Guarantee.

The figures reveal that 20,444 people, accounting for 31.3% of the patients seen, had waited longer than the 12-week time limit for an inpatient or day case procedure.

Figures from Public Health Scotland also reveal that at 31 March, just two weeks after the NHS was put on an emergency footing, 79,973 people were still on the waiting list for a procedure and as many as 35.6% had already been waiting over 12 weeks.

For the same period, in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, there were 22,765 still on the waiting list and over 40% of  these patients had been waiting for 12 weeks or more.

These figures are typical for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde with 41% of patients in December 2019 having been on the procedure waiting list for 12 weeks or more, 42% in January 2020, and just over 40% in February 2020 – all before emergency Covid-19 measures were introduced.

Jackie Baillie said:  “These figures are deeply concerning as standalone statistics. But when you consider that these figures highlight deep failings in our health service prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, they become cause for grave concern for the future capabilities of our NHS.

“It is utterly unacceptable the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has consistently left huge numbers of individuals waiting for 12 weeks or more for procedures.

“If this is the way patients were being treated before we were plunged into a significant public health crisis, I can’t see how the Health Board will be able to make any substantial improvements for the foreseeable future.

“The Scottish Government must urgently provide all health boards with a long-term recovery plan which will not only support patients and workers as we navigate the current crisis, but will also tackle more long term, systematic failings too.”

Meanwhile, the MSP has raised concerns regarding the current number of care home staff who have still not been tested for Covid-19.

Last week, the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Jeane Freeman, publicly committed to testing all care home staff in Scotland by Monday 25 May.

However, figures released recently show that, by 18 May, only 7.65% of social care workers had been tested, casting doubt over the Scottish Government’s ability to test all care home staff by 25 May. Final testing figures have not yet been released.

Jackie Baillie says she has has repeatedly called for all social care staff and clients to be immediately tested for Covid-19 in order to reduce the spread of the virus within care homes and other social care settings.

She said: ““It is simply not good enough that, after having months to test social care staff, the Scottish Government is now unable to meet their own testing target.

“Since March, calls for immediate and continuous testing of care home staff have come from across the political spectrum – as well as care home staff and family members of residents who have sadly passed away.

“West Dunbartonshire’s social care sector has been hit particularly hard by Covid-19 and yet staff are still not properly protected and are being made to travel miles out with the area to access a testing centre.

“The way that these vital key workers have been treated is appalling.

“The Scottish Government must ensure that all tests are carried out as quickly as possible in order to protect staff and prevent further avoidable deaths amongst care homes residents.”

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