Scottish Labour comments on NHS statistics

Commenting on a further deterioration in A&E waiting times, Scottish Labour’s Neil Findlay MSP, said:

“These figures again show that the SNP’s waiting times target is nothing but a fantasy.

“Despite our NHS staff working incredibly hard under huge pressures, the target has never been met across Scotland. Even when the SNP reduced the target, it still isn’t being met in the majority of health board areas.

“Audit Scotland told the Scottish Government that our hospitals simply can’t cope with the demands being placed upon them. These figures show that nothing has changed and that performance remains poor. Despite all the excellent work from our dedicated health professionals our A&E departments aren’t coping, even though the number of patients isn’t increasing.

“The SNP’s answer to systemic failure is to throw some cash at the problem. That’s exactly what they did with A&E waiting times. It hasn’t worked. This is more proof that we need a complete review of our NHS to make sure that it is fit for purpose for the 21st century. Patients and staff deserve nothing less.”

Commenting on the 12 and 18 week treatment targets, Scottish Labour’s Neil Findlay MSP, said:

“For the first time since the introduction of the Referral to Treatment Target in 2011, the NHS in Scotland has failed to meet it.

“This has to raise alarm bells across our health service. Large health boards are not meeting the target and it shows that the NHS is simply not able to meet the capacity demands which it faces.

“We have also seen significant numbers of patients not being treated within 12 weeks under the Treatment Time Guarantee. When these figures are put together with the struggling A&E waiting times, we see a health service which is struggling to cope and a Cabinet Secretary for Health who is more interested in abusing his office for his own political gain, than overseeing a properly run, managed and funded health service across Scotland.

“If Alex Neil won’t resign because he broke the Ministerial Code over his direction to overturn a decision affecting Monklands Hospital, then these terrible statistics showing the NHS breaking under pressure should be reason enough for him to go. Unfortunately for both patients and staff, Alex Neil will never accept responsibility for what is happening under his watch.”

Responding to staffing numbers, Scottish Labour’s Dr Richard Simpson MSP, said:

“We still have fewer nurses in our NHS than we did in 2009. That means that our nursing and midwifery staff will be working even harder to help provide care to patients.

“The figures also show a dramatic increase in the use of ‘bank’ nurses and agency staff. They raise questions about whether we have the right staff in the right places. Given the increase in waiting times for patients to receive treatment, it would suggest that we don’t have the staff we need in the places where they need to be. Flexibility in health staffing is good, but such dramatic increases in the use of temporary staff would indicate that we simply don’t have the number of full-time nurses and midwives that we need. That surely needs to be considered by the Scottish Government.”

Commenting on delayed discharges, Scottish Labour’s Dr Richard Simpson MSP, said:

“With patients waiting more than 4 weeks to be discharged increasing by 293% over one year, the number of patients waiting more than 2 weeks rising by 101% over the same period and bed days inappropriately occupied rising by 13,101 in one quarter, this data shows that we need to do more work to get patients out of hospital as soon as is safe. It also shows that we need to move to more care and treatment in our communities to prevent admissions.

“The impact of delayed discharges ripples through the whole health service. Beds are left unavailable for other patients, delaying treatment and clogging the system. It is no surprise that as these figures show a dramatic increase, our NHS shows delays in other patients being treated.

“We need our NHS to work far more closely with social care to help gets patients into safe and caring places outside hospitals. Health and social care mergers offer a solution, but we need action now, before sustained increases in delayed discharges impacts our hospitals this winter.”

27 May 2014