Scottish Government 'should rip up NHS recovery plan and start again'

The Scottish Liberal Democrats say recent healthcare statistics show the government needs to 'return to the drawing board'.

Liberal Democrats urge Scottish Government to ‘rip up NHS recovery plan and start again’ iStock

The Scottish Government should “rip up” its NHS recovery plan and start again, the Scottish Liberal Democrats have said.

Last year, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Health Secretary Humza Yousaf unveiled the plan, which pledged to spend £1bn improving healthcare in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

An analysis by the Scottish Lib Dems looked at the state of the NHS in the past compared to the most recent figures.

It showed that A&E waiting times have worsened in the past year, from 76.5% of people waiting less than four hours before being admitted or discharged in August last year to 67.9% in the most recent figures.

The party also found the number of cancer patients waiting longer than 62 days for treatment was 76.9%, the worst on record, in the first quarter of this year, compared to 83.1% between July and September last year.

Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton urged the Scottish Government to go back to the drawing board with its plans.

“I look at these healthcare statistics with increasing despair,” he said.

“The NHS was hit hard by Covid-19 and it needs support to rebuild and tackle long backlogs for treatment.

“The package that the SNP offered our NHS a year ago was dismal.

“These figures show that one year on, there has been no recovery, only more pressure, more stress and more suffering.

“Mr Yousaf needs to rip up his failed plans and start again.

“People should be able to access care swiftly and close to home. In many cases it is literally a matter of life and death.

“Scottish Liberal Democrats want to see those working on the frontlines given a greater say in how we equip and transform our health service to bounce back from the horrors of Covid-19 and 15 years of SNP misrule.”

The Lib Dems have repeatedly called for a burnout prevention strategy to be developed to help NHS staff, as well as convening a health and social care staff assembly and launching a recruitment campaign.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Like health services across the UK and around the world, the impact of the pandemic has put huge pressure on NHS Scotland, which is still facing its most difficult challenge ever in its 74-year history.

“Our Recovery Plan looks to drive improvement across our services and will be reviewed regularly and reported on annually to ensure actions and outcomes are delivered. Given the scale of the pressure it is rightly a five-year Recovery Plan.

“We have set out ambitious waiting times targets to address the backlog of planned care and are working hard with NHS Boards to maximise capacity in order to meet these.

“We recognise the impact long waiting times can have on patients and have given boards and clinicians more flexibility to manage waiting lists, with a focus on treating the most clinically urgent patients and eliminating long waits.

“Scottish A&Es have outperformed the rest of the UK for seven years despite the extreme pressures posed by the pandemic. Occupancy and staffing pressures remain high and continue to impact the delivery of emergency services.

“We are investing £50m to drive down waiting times through our Urgent and Unscheduled Care Collaborative programme, including further development of Flow Navigation Centres in every board to ensure rapid access to a clinician and scheduled appointments, where possible.”

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