25 MAY 2021

By Democrat reporter

Scottish Labour has called on the new health secretary, Humza Yousaf, to take ‘urgent action’ to remobilise the NHS as new statistics show a looming ‘health care crisis’.

Statistics published today have revealed that at the end of March 2021 there were 354,782 outpatients on waiting lists and that inpatient and daycase activity was down 43.4 per cent compared to the same quarter last year.

Numbers waiting for diagnostic tests have also increased and, with almost 14 per cent of patients waiting over a year for an endoscopy, Jackie Baillie has warned of a ‘health care crisis’.

Without urgent action to remobilise the NHS lives will be lost, Labour has said.

Scottish Labour health spokesperson and deputy leader Jackie Baillie, right,  said: “These statistics plainly show that we are in the midst of a health care crisis.

“Without urgent action to remobilise the NHS lives will be lost – Humza Yousaf has no time to lose.

“Scottish Labour has published a detailed NHS recovery plan outlining the action needed to get NHS and cancer services back on track.

“We have no time to dither and delay. The SNP need to take urgent action to save lives and they need to take it now.”

Data available from Public Health Scotland:

Diagnostic waiting times

  • 105,630 patients were waiting to be seen for the eight key diagnostic tests, an increase of 4.7% (+4,717) from 31 December 2020 and 24.9% (+21,074) higher than 31 March 2020. When comparing to pre-pandemic levels, the waiting list size is 19.6% higher than 28 February 2020.
  • The impact of the second wave of COVID-19 has led to a substantial increase in long waits for an endoscopy test. The percentage of patients waiting over 52 weeks increased from 3.9% at 31 December 2020 to 13.6% (4,549 patients, +3,313) at 31 March 2021.

NHS Waiting Times:

  • At 31 March 2021, 354,782 outpatients were waiting to be seen. This represents an increase of 4.2% from 31 December 2020 and is 14.1% higher than at 31 March 2019, before the pandemic began.
  • During the quarter ending 31 March 2021, 36,582 inpatient and daycase patients were admitted for treatment. This represents a decrease of 20.4% (-9,368) from the quarter ending December 2020 and 43.4% (-28,096) lower than in the same quarter in 2020.

    Meanwhile, Scottish Liberal Democrats today warned patients “can’t afford for ministers to be distracted” from the job of NHS recovery after new statistics showed the First Minister’s 12-week legal Treatment Time Guarantee has been broken more than 400,000 times.

    Public Health Scotland statistics show the law, signed personally by Nicola Sturgeon, left, has now been broken 402,800 times.

    The number of patients waiting over a year has also nearly doubled since Christmas. Despite the legal right to be seen within 12 weeks, the number of people waiting over 52 weeks increased from 15,128 in December to 28,203 in March.

    Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP, below right,  commented: “Nicola Sturgeon’s guarantee was broken 300,000 times before the pandemic struck. Now the number of breaches has surpassed 400,000. Patients are waiting in pain and the law underpinning their rights is in tatters.

    “Patients and hardworking staff can’t afford for ministers to be distracted from the job of NHS recovery. Catching up on lost treatments and delayed operations is going to need every ounce of their energy and attention.

    “We all need to come together to recover from the worst health crisis in 100 years. It will be important to listen to the views of NHS staff as to which service innovations they have pioneered during the pandemic will be essential to rebuild the health service.

    “We also need a bigger range of treatment and rehab in local hospitals and to appoint a Patients’ Commissioner to stand up for patients in what can be a daunting system.”

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