Sturgeon pledges post-pandemic NHS ‘remobilisation’

Half of frontline spending will go to GPs and community services if the SNP win election, Sturgeon said.

Sturgeon pledges post-pandemic NHS ‘remobilisation’ PA Media

Half of all spending on frontline NHS care will go to GPs and community services if the SNP is re-elected in May, Nicola Sturgeon has pledged.

The First Minister also promised that her party will set up an expanded network of ten centres doing diagnostic work and elective surgery.

This would include a renewed Edinburgh Eye Pavilion, as well new elective treatment centres in Ayrshire and Cumbernauld.

While work to establish the new centres is taking place, Sturgeon said “mobile operating theatre units” will be deployed at a number of NHS sites.

The health service could also utilise “under-used theatre capacity in community and general hospitals”, she added, saying this could see more people treated as day cases.

The SNP leader announced the plans as part of her party’s “full-scale post-pandemic remobilisation of the NHS”.

To help reduce waiting times, she said activity levels for inpatient, day-case and outpatients will rise by 10% compared to what they were prior to the coronavirus crisis.

This will happen in the first year of a new SNP government, Sturgeon said, and then be maintained for the rest of the next five-year term.

She used an online speech on Wednesday to announce details of her party’s plans to “remobilise the NHS for the future”.

She said the pandemic has “taught us never to take the NHS for granted”, adding: “We need to value it, invest in it and protect it with everything we’ve got.”

A key part of the SNP proposals would be working to ensure more people can “get the right support closer to their home”, Ms Sturgeon said.

For this to be achieved, she added: “A real shift in the balance of care is required – from acute hospital settings to community and local services.

“This shift in the balance of care must be backed up by investment.

“So in the next parliament, we will ensure that half of the total budget for frontline NHS services will be invested in community and primary care.

“This will allow us, for example, to invest in more nurse-led community treatment in GP practices and other community settings, so that more people can be cared for more conveniently and quickly.”

Sturgeon said that in future, an estimated 30,000 patients with the eye condition glaucoma could “get the care they need in community settings rather than attending hospital as outpatients”.

She added that as well as being “obviously better and more convenient for patients”, treating them in this way will also free up hospital capacity.

She also said that the extra elective treatment centres will help tackle the “backlog created by Covid”.

Sturgeon said six such facilities are “already in development”, and the end result will see “a national network of ten elective and diagnostic centres across the country”.

Community mental health services will also be expanded “significantly”, Ms Sturgeon said.

She said investment in and reform of mental health services – especially for children and young people – “was already a priority before the pandemic”.

But she added: “The stress and trauma of Covid has made that even more necessary and urgent.

“The ambition we are setting out in the remobilisation plan is bold but also achievable – it is a plan to recover from the pandemic, remobilise our NHS and tackle the treatment backlog, and put the NHS on a secure and sustainable footing for the long-term.

“I believe that working with our NHS staff, local communities, patient groups and trade unions, we can make sure people get the treatment they need, and that we can get Scotland’s NHS not just back to where it was, but ready to serve Scotland long into the future.”

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