By Bill Heaney

Jackie Baillie has called for unused wards at the Vale of Leven Hospital to be used to tackle the crisis in the NHS.

Non-urgent elective procedures across NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde have been cancelled and the A&E department at the Royal Alexandra Hospital recorded its worst ever waiting times figures with just 42.4 percent of patients being seen within the Scottish Government’s own target time of four hours.

Humza Yousaf addressed parliament on Tuesday after a press briefing was held by the Cabinet Secretary for Health and First Minister Nicolas Sturgeon the previous day.

Jackie Baillie has also called for wards at the Vale of Leven Hospital, something she challenged Yousaf on a year ago, to be used to clear some of the backlog.

Labour’s health spokesperson Jackie Baillie and SNP Health Secretary Humza Yousaf.

The Dumbarton constituency MSP has been inundated with correspondence from constituents who have had operations cancelled and been subject to long wait times for treatment, many of whom have been left worried about their condition in the meantime.

Jackie Baillie said: “Scotland is now in the midst of the worst NHS winter crisis in living memory – for which this SNP government is solely responsible.

“For months, Scottish Labour warned of the potential winter NHS crisis and offered solutions that would support staff and patients – but Humza Yousaf and Nicola Sturgeon stuck their fingers in their ears and simply ignored everyone, including clinicians.

“A year ago, I challenged Humza Yousaf on the use of current vacant wards within the Vale of Leven Hospital in order to clear some of the backlog. Despite him welcoming this possibility, nothing has happened and the crisis has become even worse.

“The result of SNP inaction and incompetence is that the lives of Scots are being put in danger on a weekly basis.

“This week alone, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has cancelled non-elective procedures, affecting people in Dumbarton, the Vale of Leven and Helensburgh and the emergency department where they attend has recorded its worst waiting times on record.

“This decision will lead to patients missing out on important procedures so that staff can be reprioritised to keep A&E above water.

“According to clinicians, this deadly crisis is not the result of the pandemic, nor has it been caused by the flu – the root cause of this crisis is this incompetent SNP government.

“Hardworking staff are being abandoned and feel unable to provide top-quality care. Patient safety is being compromised and lives are being lost.

“This cannot go on. Humza Yousaf must go and make way for a Health Secretary that will act.”

Meanwhile, readers can watch Jackie Baillie’s exchange with Humza Yousaf in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday here: https://www.facebook.com/jackie.baillie/videos/497706722563263/

Last month Scottish Labour set out our NHS Winter Recovery Plan with actions the Scottish Government needed to take to prevent winter pressures overwhelming health services. The SNP failed to listen to our suggestions and failed to heed the concerns of clinicians.

Now, following warnings from the BMA that the NHS in Scotland may not survive, Scottish Labour are demanding Ministers act on these proposals and get our NHS back on track by:

  • Seeking military assistance to increase capacity and ensure ambulance and A&E services do not buckle under pressure.
  • Ensuring the promised increases to NHS24 investment delivers quicker response times and better quality support for patients instead of long waits on the phone.
  • Making sure A&E departments are properly staffed so that patients can be triaged and have tests carried out in a timely manner.
  • Reducing delayed discharge through increases in step-down care, either in hospital facilities or care homes, and prioritising hospital to home services. This would ensure patients could be cared for appropriately and hospital bed capacity is increased for those with urgent clinical need.  
  • Addressing staffing shortages in social care, starting with a plan to deliver £15 per hour for social care workers, and a commitment to divert resources from their discredited National Care Service reforms into delivering the much needed Feeley recommendations.
  • Prioritising the retention of experienced NHS staff in the face of warnings from unions of burn-out, with proper well-being services and working time reviews for those considering leaving. To help the NHS through the winter crisis Minsters should also consider incentives for recently retired NHS professionals to return to the NHS for a fixed period to supplement the existing workforce and make use of their expertise.

Scottish Labour’s full Winter Recovery Plan also called for steps to improve mental health care, support Primary Care and GPs, and restore NHS services for the long-term but the SNP failed to heed the warnings and patients and staff have been left to face the worst of the winter pressures without support. Scottish Labour’s Winter NHS Recovery Plan from December is available here: http://scottishlabour.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/NHSWinterRecoveryPlan.pdf

One comment

  1. Folks know what is wrong.

    1) Inadequate funding. The NHS has been underfunded for years.

    2) The Big Red Brexit Bus that promised £250 million ever week has not arrived and has gone missing.

    3) The Tories want to privatise the NHS.

    4) And so actually do Labour albeit to a lesser extent. Indeed, remembering the tragedy of the C.Diff at the Vale of Leven and the deadly inadequate cleaning, which party privatised the cleaning services and which party brought cleaning back into the NHS.

    5) The Scottish National Health Service is short of doctors and nurses. Some have retired and not been replaced whilst many many others have been chased out of the country due to Brexit. Talk about turkeys voting for an early Christmas. But we did vote to leave the EU and strip our hospitals, and indeed other industries of key personnel.

    6) And the training of doctors. Why are we not training more. Are we too stupid as a country or a people or are there educational issues precluding folk for getting places and commencing medical training.

    At least if it was too stupid then there would be no one to blame. However if the shortage arise through lack of university places or the lack of support to enable people to be able to pursue medical training then who would be to blame for that?

    6) Cold houses where the meter self disconnected nearly 400,000 households last year and where many many more scrimp and save to try and afford their bills. How many chronically ill with heart, lung and respiratory issues have become acutely ill due to no or inadequate heating.

    That’s something we don’t talk about as a tidal wave of ill health overwhelms our NHS. Surprising that not one politician has raised this issue as the power corporates absolutely coin in astronomical profits.

    So yes the Health Secretary might not be the sharpest scalpel in the box, and may have a little difficulty with telling the truth, but the reality of this crisis is much deeper than an absolutely weak minister.

    This mess, or substantially most of it, comes from down south. And I for one pay tribute to all those who deliver this great National health service. So let us address the real big issues – funding, train more doctors, let our hospitals employ foreign EU workers again, and let us end the ill health holocaust of cold households.

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