By Lucy Ashton
The Scottish Conservatives have demanded a recall of parliament this week to debate the escalating crisis in Scotland’s NHS.
Shadow health secretary and practising GP Dr Sandesh Gulhane says the problems are so acute and mounting that they need addressing now – rather than when Holyrood is due to reconvene, a week tomorrow.
Over the holiday period, Scotland has recorded by far its worst-ever A&E waiting times, while two health boards have begged staff to cut short leave to help out, and medics at the biggest – Greater Glasgow and Clyde, which includes West Dunbartonshire and Helensburgh – sought to have a ‘major incident’ declared due to concerns over patient safety.
Conservative health spokesman Sandesh Gulhane, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf.
These alarming developments come at the same time as apocalyptic warnings about the future of Scotland’s NHS from the chairman of BMA Scotland, Dr Iain Kennedy.
Dr Kennedy has warned that the service is “broken” and can’t survive in its current form, with rationing of some treatments already underway.
Sandesh Gulhane, who has been doing shifts over the festive period, described the current situation as “an unprecedented crisis” which required an “emergency response” from Nicola Sturgeon and health secretary Humza Yousaf.
Shadow health secretary Dr Sandesh Gulhane MSP said: “It’s no exaggeration to say Scotland’s NHS is on life support at the moment – and an emergency response is needed from Nicola Sturgeon.
“Our health service is in the midst of an unprecedented crisis – by far the worst in my clinical career.
“The system is hanging together by a thread. Years of dire workforce planning by successive SNP health secretaries has left us with a desperate shortfall of frontline staff in all areas of the NHS – nurses, GPs, specialist doctors.
“This – coupled with Humza Yousaf’s woefully-inadequate Covid Recovery Plan, lack of leadership and undermining of staff – has left our health service in the perilous situation where lives are being needlessly lost.
“I’ve experienced first-hand how bad things are, and how over-stretched and shattered staff are, during locum GP shifts over the holidays.
“Each day, it seems, a fresh apocalyptic warning is issued by a senior medic or health board, yet Humza Yousaf is missing in action and there is silence from the government.
“Our NHS can’t afford to wait until next week for action from the health secretary – who staff have lost faith in, and who ought to be sacked – or an SNP government which has typically made a debate on independence its first priority in parliamentary business for the new year.
“That’s why I’m calling on Nicola Sturgeon to reconvene parliament this week to debate the enormous crisis that is continuing to unfold on her watch.”