NOTEBOOK by BILL HEANEY
Updated at midnight on Thursday, February 17.
STOP PRESS: The news just in is that John Swinney has announced that he will not be standing in the SNP party contest to replace Nicola Sturgeon as First Minister of Scotland.”
If John Swinney is going to replace Nicola Sturgeon as First Minister of Scotland, which looks increasingly likely given that the SNP would be able to say he had held the top job before losing the next election, then the opposition parties are not hanging around before putting the boot in. And nor should they be.
There will be no honeymoon for Honest John and one indication that he won’t get it easy was that Nicola emerged in leisure gear as she left Bute House last night.
Work will be a four-letter word for her before she passes on the poisoned chalice of high office to the quiet man who has been her deputy for most of her tenure at Holyrood.
John Swinney should now prepare himself for one hospital pass after another as he is asked to take up all the issues that Nicola Surgeon failed to get over the line.
And there are many, from the bottle deposit scheme to half-built ferries to party fiscal matters and the Queen Elizabeth and Royal Children’s “dirty water deaths” hospitals scandal plus care of the elderly which is due to come under the spotlight soon at a judge-led public inquiry.
Additionally, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton today called on the next First Minister to ditch plans for a ministerial takeover of social care, claiming that it is “doomed to fail” and urging Sturgeon’s successor to instead focus on the core problems facing staff and patients.
Last week, the SNP and Greens voted down Scottish Liberal Democrat calls to scrap the plans for a ministerial takeover of social care, despite overwhelming evidence that the proposed legislation will not deal with the key challenges in the sector.
Mr Cole-Hamilton said: “After abandoning their plans to break up the UK, the first thing Nicola Sturgeon’s successor must do is scrap the billion-pound bureaucratic takeover by ministers of the social care sector. This plan is doomed to fail.
John Swinney, Jackie Baillie and Alex Cole-Hamilton
“The government promised to eradicate delayed discharge eight years ago, but it is now worse than ever because they failed to tackle the shortages in social care.
“Like many Scots, Scottish Liberal Democrats have had enough of this conveyor belt of broken promises. The government must listen to COSLA, trade unions, health board bosses, its own back benchers and numerous other organisations when they say its proposals won’t work.
“Instead, we need the next First Minister to bring forward national standards and entitlements for users to enhance the quality of care and move quickly to reward staff with better pay, conditions and career progression. This would deliver fair work years ahead of the SNP and Green’s current schedule.”
As thousands still wait more than the four-hour standard in Scotland’s A&E, the crisis in our NHS is far from over, Jackie Baillie, the MSP for Dumbarton, Helensburgh and Lomond told the would-be incumbents for Sturgeon’s job.
She said: A&E wait times remain dismal as only 68.6 percent of attendees were seen and admitted, transferred, or discharged within four hours. At the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley, just over two thirds (66.9 percent) of patients were dealt with within the Scottish Government’s own target time.
“Attendance levels at the RAH were below 1000 patients for the fourth week in a row yet performance against the target is among the worst in the country.
“We may be through the worst of the winter in our A&E, but these dismal figures tell us that the crisis in our NHS is far from over.
“Just two thirds of patients at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley are being seen within the four-hour standard.
“Each week patients are being forced to wait for hours on end to receive treatment in A&E. Staff and patient safety is still at risk, and delayed discharge is at breaking point.
“The SNP have known for months now what they need to do to end this chaos yet there has been no sustained effort to tackle it.
“Humza Yousaf praises every small improvement we see but then the next week it feels like we are back to square one.
“The Health Secretary also need to acknowledge that attendances are falling at A&E units and they must make sure that people are not slipping through the net because they don’t want to bother hard-pressed healthcare staff.
“When nearly a third of patients are waiting too long at A&E, the SNP need to take serious action, sustain improvements, end delayed discharge and prioritise primary care so that illnesses can be treated before they reach A&E.”
During week ending 5 February 2023:
There were 23,111 attendances at Emergency Departments in NHSScotland.
- 68.6 percent of ED attendances were seen and resulted in a subsequent admission, transfer or discharge within four hours. 66.9 percent
- 2,174 patients spent more than 8 hours in an Emergency Department.
- 1,052 patients spent more than 12 hours in an Emergency Department