By Bill Heaney

Scottish Labour can today reveal Humza Yousaf’s deadly legacy as Health Minister, as new data shows the SNP government failing spectacularly to implement its NHS recovery plan.

Information obtained by Scottish Labour from a Freedom of Information request shows that the SNP Government is unlikely to meet its commitment that the network of National Treatment Centres will deliver an additional 40,000 inpatient and day case procedures in 2025/26.

Scottish Government papers also reveal that: 

  • Officials advised Humza Yousaf back in February 2023 against citing figures on the additional capacity that NTCs would deliver as “projections included in the NHS Recovery Plan have dropped significantly”.
  • The 1,500 additional staff by 2026, which was committed to in the NHS Recovery Plan, is unlikely to be met due to delays in opening National Treatment Centres, with some boards already experiencing recruitment challenges in relation to staffing.
  • A Cabinet Secretary briefing from 8 March 2023 revealed that there was “no [revenue] funding source” for the National Treatment Centres that are not yet in construction, whilst the “remaining programme [is] not affordable on [the] basis of [the] current Capital Spending Review”. 
  • The most recent National Treatment Centres Programme Assurance and Action Plan, from August 2022, gave an overall RAG status of Amber/Red, with serious concerns raised about the remaining five projects, which were assessed as Red status, due to “making limited progress”. 

This news comes as statistics have shown that Scotland’s NHS is in the midst of a workforce crisis – with thousands of vacancies across our NHS and a yearly bill for agency staff topping out at £567 million for last year.

The pandemic may be long over and Humza Yousaf may no longer be Health Secretary, but Scotland’s NHS remains deep in crisis with spiralling waiting times, A&E in disarray and delayed discharge once more on the rise.

Labour’s Jackie Baillie, Health Secretary Michael Matheson and FM Humza Yousaf.

Recent statistics have shown that long waiting lists have left thousands of Scots waiting well over a year for treatment – leaving those with the funds to go private and those without to live in pain. With delays to the National Treatment Centres, it is clear that this situation will only deteriorate.

Scottish Labour has today said that this failure to deliver on the SNP’s NHS recovery plan is the ‘deadly legacy’ of Humza Yousaf and has demanded that Michael Matheson acts to undo the damage done by his predecessor.

Scottish Labour health spokesperson Jackie Baillie said: “Our NHS has been plunged into crisis by this SNP government and what this revelation shows is that the SNP is unable to turn it around.

“Not content with crashing our health service, the SNP is now failing to deliver the modest ‘recovery plan’ that it promised to implement.

“Our NHS doesn’t just need a recovery plan from the pandemic – it needs a recovery plan from Humza Yousaf.

“Targets are being missed and progress is stalling while patients are forced to go private and the agency bill soars.

“SNP incompetence is threatening the very existence of our NHS. Michael Matheson must act now to support our valiant NHS staff and to undo the deadly legacy of Scotland’s worst ever health minister – Humza Yousaf.”

National Treatment Centres, dates for opening
  Scheduled date Planned date
NHS Golden Jubilee – Phase 1 Opened Nov-2020
NHS Fife 2022 Mar-2023
NHS Highland 2022 Apr-2023
NHS Forth Valley 2022 Aug-2023
NHS Golden Jubilee – Phase 2 2023 Dec-2023
NHS Ayrshire and Arran 2025 Jun-2024
NHS Tayside 2025 Dec-2026
NHS Lothian  2025 Dec-2027
Eye-Pavilion Edinburgh N/A Jun-2027
NHS Lanarkshire 2026 Jun-2028
NHS Grampian 2025 Oct-2027

Correspondence ref. press statement following publication of the Audit Scotland’s report on NHS, 22 Feb. 2023.

  • Private Secretary to the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care to SG official: “Mr Yousaf asks how much additional capacity will the NTCs opening this year give us? We should include in the figure.”
  • SG official to Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care: “We have discussed with officials and they have advised against including a figure on capacity as projections included in the NHS Recovery Plan have dropped significantly and policy colleagues expect further fluctuation in capacity this year as NTCs continue to report their figures. Therefore we advise against including a figure.”

National Treatment Centres Programme Assurance and Action Plan, August 2022

  • “The remaining NTC Projects are making limited progress and may take until 2027 to deliver and are assessed as RED status.”
  • “Despite work to improve overarching governance arrangement there remains some concern that it is not clear where decisions are being made and all parties are being held to account for their delivery. Security of revenue funding and building of adequate capacity and resources within each of the NTCs remain significant issues which need to be escalated to Ministers for timely resolution. Urgent action is needed to ensure these are addressed and establish whether resolution is feasible for several of the latter NTC projects.

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