By Bill Heaney
Humza Yousaf should be sacked for the growing crisis throughout Scotland’s NHS, the Scottish Conservatives and Liberal Democrats told Parliament today.
Pressure mounted on the Health Secretary at First Minister’s Questions as Douglas Ross raised widespread problems in Scotland’s NHS, including the potential nurses strike and the longest waiting times ever.
The Tory leader said this week’s accident and emergency statistics were the 14th time since Humza Yousaf became Health Secretary that waiting times have hit their worst-ever level.
However, Humza Yousaf claimed: “Our recovery plan is a five-year recovery plan. We’re already seeing elements of recovery.”
Douglas Ross listed a host of problems that have developed or worsened in the 18 months since Humza Yousaf became Health Secretary.
These include, he claimed, record staff vacancies, record waiting times, patients struggling to see their GPs and now the prospect of devastating strike action by shattered nurses.
Ross, raised the case of a constituent who had called an ambulance when she suffered a suspected heart attack. They waited an hour for an ambulance to arrive. When it got to hospital it had to sit outside for three hours. Once inside, the woman waited 36 hours to get a bed, he said.
Tory leader Douglas Ross, Health Secretary Humza Yousaf, and Lib Dem Alex Cole-Hamilton.
Douglas Ross also highlighted recent comments from a host of health professionals on the state of Scotland’s NHS on Humza Yousaf’s watch.
- Hilary Nelson, from the Royal College of Nurses, who said: “Things are not safe for patients.”
- Dawn Marr from the RCN, who said: “We’ve been in talks for months and months and months. And it has got to the point now where nursing staff are having to stand up for not only ourselves, but for our patients as well, because this government isn’t listening.”
- Dr Lailah Peel, of BMA Scotland, who said: “It’s been so awful for so long we’re simply broken, overwhelmed, exhausted, with nothing left to give. As far as I can see the NHS is collapsing around us. Staff are leaving in droves to protect themselves.”
He added: “For the first time ever, nurses who work tirelessly in Scotland’s NHS are on the brink of going on strike. It’s not only about pay, they are incredibly worried about the crisis in Scotland’s Health Service.
“Time and again we come to this chamber raising the huge difficulties facing NHS staff and patients in Scotland’s hospitals. But it is now beyond doubt that the Health Secretary has failed.
Ross said Scotland’s NHS deserved better and that it was time for the Health Secretary to be fired.
“The facts confirm that our NHS is on its knees. This week’s A&E waiting-time figures are the worst ever – but this is the 14th time since Humza Yousaf became Health Secretary that waiting times have hit their worst-ever level.
“Lives are on the line because the Health Secretary keeps failing to bring forward any solution.
“But this morning, Humza Yousaf said: ‘Our recovery plan is a five-year recovery plan. We’re already seeing elements of recovery.’ What planet is he on?
“From day one, we said his recovery plan was hopeless. It was flimsy, with no detail and no substance.
“This is what his recovery plan has delivered – record vacancies, the longest-ever waiting times, patients struggling to see their GP, nurses voting to strike for the first time ever and the worst ever A&E statistics.
“Scotland’s NHS is in crisis. Whoever the SNP try to blame, Humza Yousaf has failed and all he can do now is try to spin that the NHS is in recovery when, really, it’s at breaking point.
“How much worse does it have to get for him to take responsibility? Scotland’s NHS deserves better than this Health Secretary. It’s time for Humza Yousaf to be sacked.”
Meanwhile, responding to the comments from Health Secretary Humza Yousaf and RCN Scotland’s director Colin Poolman, who described a “recruitment crisis” in nursing and warned of “years of under-investment”, Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “Nursing union officials are warning that staff are exhausted and staffing levels are at dangerous levels. They are striking because they know this situation cannot continue.
“If Humza Yousaf thinks our NHS is performing well; he is living in fantasy land. Since his NHS recovery plan was launched, virtually every measure of performance has got worse.
“Week after week, the SNP’s strategy is deflect, deflect, deflect. They spin the stats and compare a bad situation with an even worse situation to make the bad one look good. The Health Secretary’s comments are deafeningly cynical and, at their worst, deeply misleading.
“Scottish Liberal Democrats have called for a burnout prevention strategy and a staff assembly to calm the crisis. These proposals have been voted down or ignored by a pig-headed SNP/Green coalition which would rather turn a blind eye.
“Nurses needs new hope. Rather than distract themselves with a billion-pound bureaucratic takeover of social care, the government must overhaul pay and conditions to put an end to this sorry mess.”
Top picture: Yet another patient being treated in the back of an ambulance.