By Lucy Ashton
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader and health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has today called on the Health Secretary to finally take action on the stubbornly high number of delayed hospital discharges as new Public Health Scotland figures show there are still more than 1,700 people waiting in hospitals.
In April 2023, the average number of beds occupied per day in hospital was 1,711. The number of days spent in hospital by people whose discharge was delayed was 51,327.
In 2015, the SNP Government promised to “eradicate delayed discharges from the system” within a year.
Mr Cole-Hamilton said: “Yet again, these figures are stubbornly high but there is absolutely no sign of any ministerial action to bring down delays.
“Ignoring the problem and waiting five years for the wrong solution in the form of an ill-fated ministerial takeover of social care just won’t cut it. The Health Secretary must come to the table now with proper investment plans for social care services and staff.
“Scottish Liberal Democrats would support staff today by setting national standards and entitlements for users to drive up the quality of care and move quickly to reward staff with better pay, conditions and career progression through powerful national bargaining.”
Meanwhile, Alex Cole-Hamilton has said that Humza Yousaf’s NHS Recovery Plan has “utterly failed” people waiting for help with their mental health after the 18-week treatment time target was missed for more than a quarter of children and 1 in 5 adults during the first three months of 2023.
The First Minister’s NHS Recovery Plan committed to “clearing waiting lists in both CAMHS and Psychological Therapies by March 2023”, but the Public Health Scotland statistics published today show that was missed by a huge margin.
Mr Cole-Hamilton, pictured right, said: “Humza Yousaf made a personal promise in the NHS Recovery Plan to all those waiting for help. Those have proven empty words because his Scottish Government has utterly failed them, yet again.
“Every long wait is a nightmare for those children and adults in desperate need of help.
“Mental health services were swamped before the pandemic. On top of that have been added the long shadow of lockdown, the pressures of the cost of living and the SNP’s reckless decision to cut £50 million from the mental health budget over winter.
“We need a properly funded, world-beating system that will drive down waits and tackle Scotland’s mental health emergency.
“Scottish Liberal Democrats are calling on the government to put more counsellors in schools, ramp up training so that every workplace can benefit from a mental health first aider and roll out more mental health professionals near to you in GP surgeries and A&E departments.”
To add to the government’s troubles on health matters, Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has today called on the Health Secretary to devise a new NHS Recovery Plan because “we are way beyond crisis point.”
A new Liberal Democrat analysis revealed that 408,361 operations have been lost since the pandemic first began.
Scottish Liberal Democrat analysis of Public Health Scotland figures has compared average pre-Covid levels of NHS activity with the number of operations scheduled over the past three years.
The analysis also showed there was a 24% decrease between the number of operations scheduled in April and the average pre-pandemic levels.
Mr Cole-Hamilton commented: “Humza Yousaf’s time as Health Secretary left our NHS on its knees and the backlog of operations just keeps getting worse and worse.
“We are way beyond crisis point now, yet nothing seems to be enough to prompt the SNP Government into the urgent action that is required.
“It’s now abundantly clear that the government must scrap its ineffective NHS Recovery Plan and urgently devise a new one which will prioritise the recruitment and retention of staff through a burnout prevention strategy and a staff and social care assembly.”