By Lucy Ashton
The new SNP NHS recovery, health and social care secretary Michael Matheson must “rip up” up Humza Yousaf’s flimsy recovery plan, the Scottish Conservatives have said today.
Shadow health secretary Dr Sandesh Gulhane says the addition of ‘NHS Recovery’ to the cabinet position is an admission by the now First Minister that his plan produced in August 2021, completely failed to remobilise frontline services in Scotland’s NHS.
Dr Gulhane – who is also a GP – says Humza Yousaf was the worst health secretary since devolution and suffering patients and burnt out staff can ill-afford further failure under his replacement.
Since Humza Yousaf’s plan was produced following the 2021 election, A&E waiting times hit record lows in December 2022 with only 55.1% of patients being seen within the SNP’s four-hour target time.
Delayed discharge levels also hit record highs in November 2022, with almost 2,000 beds taken up by patients that were fit and healthy enough to go home.
Health Secretary Michael Matheson and Dr Sandesh Gulhane, the Tory spokesperson.
The new First Minister also oversaw over a quarter of cancer patients not being treated within two months, while he left for Bute House with one in seven Scots on a NHS waiting list.
Dr Gulhane has urged Michael Matheson – who was previously a Public Health Minister for three years – to look at the Scottish Conservatives’ “real” NHS Recovery Plans, outlined in December 2022, and implement them to finally ease the pressure on the health service.
The Scottish Conservatives’ winter recovery plan included:
- Introducing new crisis maximum waiting times. This would set a floor that patients could expect to wait for treatment during winter and would be backed up by sanctions on health boards who breach these targets.
- Running ‘Super Saturdays’ to make better use of facilities and clear backlogs. Health boards would choose a single type of treatment or operation to be exclusively carried out that day.
- Set up a winter network of mobile testing and drive-through facilities. This would set up Covid testing-style units for CT scans, blood tests and Electrocardiograms (ECGs).
- Introduce an NHS Care App to allow patients to see live hospital waiting times. This would allow patients to help the NHS manage demand and see where they are in the queue for operations.
- Introduce a full Electronic Repeat Prescription system. This would effectively copy current prescriptions without the need for sign-off again.
- Introduce ‘Prehab’ for those awaiting treatment. That means giving patients information and support to live as healthy a lifestyle as possible, so that they are fit enough for treatment to be carried out.
- Roll out and expand Reach teams across all health boards. This would help elderly individuals to avoid having to return to hospital.
Dr Gulhane says suffering patients and his colleagues on the frontline “cannot take any more” and need to see an urgent upturn in leadership under Michael Matheson.
Dr Gulhane MSP, said: “In a rare act of self-awareness, Humza Yousaf, by adding NHS Recovery to a cabinet title, made a frank admission that his flimsy NHS Recovery plan has completely failed over the last 18 months to remobilise our health service.
“The now First Minister was the worst health secretary since devolution and suffering patients and my dedicated colleagues paid the price for his total inaction.
“A&E waiting times, delayed discharge levels and cancer waiting times all hit the worst levels on record, on Humza Yousaf’s watch. He departed for Bute House leaving one in seven Scots languishing on an NHS waiting list.
“Michael Matheson must rip up his predecessor’s flimsy pamphlet and hit the reset button. The new cabinet secretary for NHS recovery, health and social care should start by looking at the recovery plans produced by my party in December.
“Humza Yousaf dismissed them out of hand, but that recovery plan is full of proposals that could ease the pressure on our health service right now.
“Suffering patients and burnt out staff cannot take any more. They need to see Michael Matheson hit the ground running.
“I am keen to visit the frontline with him myself – in his own Forth Valley area, which has been among the worst performing health boards in recent years – to see the challenges facing him in his in-tray and how he must act on them now.”