Call to introduce maximum waiting times for Scotland's health boards

Health boards would face sanctions for breaching the maximum waiting times under plans by the Scottish Conservatives.

Scottish Conservatives call for maximum waiting times to be introduced for Scotland’s health boards iStock

Maximum waiting times for treatment should be introduced in Scotland, with sanctions for health boards who breach them, ministers have been told.

The proposal is one of a number of recommendations set out by the Scottish Conservatives in a new NHS Recovery Plan published by the party on Monday.

Among other policies included in the paper is the implementation of ‘Super Saturdays’, which would involve health boards selecting a single type of treatment or operation to be carried out by a team over the day.

It would aim to make better use of NHS Scotland facilities, as well as reducing patient backlogs.

A fully electronic repeat prescription system is also proposed, with the intention of having current prescriptions effectively copied without the need for them to be signed again.

The paper lays out plans to introduce an NHS Care app to allow patients to see live hospital waiting times and to see where they are in the queue when waiting for an operation.

Further recommendations include setting up a network of mobile testing and drive-through facilities, introducing off-peak scanning, and setting up a network of long Covid clinics, as well as repealing outdated Covid guidance in hospitals.

Health secretary Humza Yousaf set out the Scottish Government’s NHS Recovery plan last year.

However, the plan has faced criticism from opposition parties, who have claimed that it does not go far enough.

A spokesperson for the health secretary accused the Conservatives of having “zero credibility”.

Scottish Conservative health and social care spokesman Dr Sandesh Gulhane said that Yousaf deserves to be sacked, with A&E waiting times the worst on record.

“Our NHS is facing its worst-ever winter and needs a real recovery plan,” said Gulhane.

“The paper we’ve published today contains a range of innovative yet practical measures that would alleviate some of the huge pressures on our health service right away.

“Despite the best efforts of dedicated frontline staff, things have only got worse since Humza Yousaf produced his flimsy recovery plan for the NHS last year.

“A&E waiting times are the worst on record, as are the levels of delayed discharge, and one in seven Scots is now on a waiting list on the watch of a failed health secretary who deserves to be sacked.”

Gulhane called on the Scottish Government to adopt the proposals set out by his party.

He continued: “It’s suffering patients and overstretched staff who are paying the price for his management, but it doesn’t have to be like this.

“There is an alternative and that is why the Scottish Conservatives have produced these bold and detailed policies that could immediately help our NHS through this incredibly challenging winter.

“From introducing maximum waiting times, to setting up a network of winter drive-through facilities and allowing patients to see live waiting times, all these measures could improve efficiency now.”

Gulhane added: “The crisis in our NHS is deepening by the day and Humza Yousaf has lost the trust of patients and staff alike.

“I urge the SNP to adopt the Scottish Conservatives’ plans today to make immediate and tangible improvements.”

A spokesperson for Humza Yousaf said: “We have been preparing NHS Scotland for winter for months. For the Tories to publish a so-called winter plan in the middle of December shows just how out of touch they are.

“And to produce a plan that takes no account of staffing and includes ideas which would take months to set up again shows how disconnected from reality the Conservatives are.

“Above all else, the Tories have zero credibility when we have engaged constructively with health unions to aim to resolve pay issues in Scotland, while the UK Government is refusing to engage meaningfully with unions on pay meaning NHS England faces major disruption this winter.”

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