NHS SCOTLAND IN CRISIS: The Army and the Fire Service have had to be drafted in, says Baillie

By Bill Heaney

Today in the Scottish Parliament, Scottish Labour will lead a debate on the crisis unfolding in our NHS and the lack of urgent response from the Scottish Government.

The crisis unfolding in our NHS has been apparent and worsening for some time, according to Jackie Baillie, the MSP for Dumbarton and health spokesperson for Scottish Labour, of which she is deputy leader.

Ms Baillie outlined the indictment that will be served on the SNP government:

  • Monthly A&E waiting times are at their worst since records began.   
  • Ambulance wait times have rocketed, with people dying after significant delays in getting medical help.  
  • The British Army and the Fire Service have now had to be drafted in to support Scotland’s ambulance services.  
  • Over 600,000 Scots are stuck on NHS waiting lists for diagnostics and treatment.  
  • NHS staff have been pushed to breaking point.  
  • Numbers on CAMHS waiting lists are at a record high. 

Yesterday it was revealed that the number of people waiting more than four hours for treatment at A&E was at an all-time high.

On Tuesday Morning, the Vice-President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine warned that Scotland needs another 1,000 acute hospital beds to deal with the pressure.

Despite the crisis in our NHS, the SNP government has been entirely missing in action and far too slow to support staff and patients.

That’s why Scottish Labour is calling for urgent action to get the situation under control.

Labour’s calls include:

  • The establishment of temporary wards and field hospitals to ease the pressure on the NHS.
  • The adoption of 30-minute maximum turnaround time for ambulances from arrival at hospital, which will ensure that paramedics can respond to other calls.

 Jackie Baillie said:  “The crisis in our NHS is spiralling ever further out of control and lives are being lost.

“Services and staff are at breaking point, but the Cabinet Secretary [Humza Yousaf] has been entirely missing in action.

“That’s why today Scottish Labour is tabling a series of proposals that will help to get the situation back under control and better prepared for the winter months.

“We need to see field hospitals to ease the pressure on the NHS and the adoption of a 30 minute ambulance turnaround time to save lives.

“There is simply no time to lose. If we are to tackle the unfolding crisis in our NHS, every party must unite around these calls.”

Jackie Baillie’s motion going before the Holyrood parliament reads as follows:  Taking Action on the NHS and Ambulance Crisis – That the Parliament thanks the Scottish Ambulance Service paramedics, technicians, call handlers and other frontline workers who are under significant stress as they cope with the current pressures on the health service; regrets the failure of the Scottish Government to address the underlying and systematic problems facing both the ambulance service and the wider health and social care service that predate the COVID-19 pandemic; welcomes the support of the British Army in helping alleviate the current pressures on NHS workers and patients; recommends that the Scottish Government adopt a 30-minute maximum turnaround time for ambulances from arrival at hospital, which will release paramedics to answer other calls, and protect staff welfare and wellbeing by reducing shift over-runs and guarding rest periods, and further calls on the Scottish Government to increase capacity in the health service ahead of winter by calling on recently retired staff to return temporarily and establishing temporary wards and field hospitals to ease the pressure on Accident and Emergency departments and manage the clinical backlog.  

Meanwhile, the A&E activity and waiting times, month ending 31 July 2021 are as follows: 

During July 2021:

  • 81.5% of attendances at A&E services were seen and resulted in a subsequent admission, transfer or discharge within 4 hours. This is the lowest recorded level in the data available as far back as July 2007.
  • 3,579 (2.8%) patients spent more than 8 hours in an A&E department.
  • 781 (0.6%) patients spent more than 12 hours in an A&E department.

Source: A&E monthly activity and waiting time data: https://www.publichealthscotland.scot/publications/ae-activity-and-waiting-times/ae-activity-and-waiting-times-month-ending-31-july-2021

CAMHS waiting lists are at a record high:  

Month Total Patients Waiting Number of patients Percentage of patients
0-18 weeks 19-35 weeks 36-52 weeks over 52 weeks 0-18 weeks 19-35 weeks 36-52 weeks 53 weeks +
Jun-21 11,722 6,299 2,470 1,267 1,686 53.7 21.1 10.8 14.4

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