Sturgeon slammed for NHS Scotland 'breaking point' as poll shows faith collapsing


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A Conservative MSP has criticised the SNP’s handling of the NHS in Scotland after polling showed half the country’s population have lost faith in the service. A YouGov poll for The Times of more than 1,000 people in Scotland found 19 percent had no confidence swift care would be available if they suddenly needed treatment with another 31 percent feeling not very confident the NHS could quickly meet their needs.

The poll results led the Scottish Conservative’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care told his SNP counterpart to get a grip.

Dr Sandesh Gulhane told Express.co.uk: “It is depressing, but not surprising, people should be losing faith in Scotland’s NHS under Humza Yousaf’s disastrous stewardship.

“August’s A&E waiting times were the worst on record on every metric, while waiting times for common routine procedures are soaring. Despite the best efforts of hard-pressed and dedicated NHS staff, the system is at breaking point.

“The Health Secretary must rethink his flimsy NHS recovery plan. Staff are exhausted and frustrated, while patients are suffering unnecessarily, and simply not getting the care they need.

“As we move towards winter, this will only get worse, unless Humza Yousaf urgently gets a grip and provides a credible plan to tackle the crisis his mismanagement has caused.”

Nicola Sturgeon NHS

Nicola Sturgeon is under pressure over NHS waiting times in Scotland (Image: Getty)

Nicola Sturgeon

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Health Secretary Humza Yousaf before the start of FMQs (Image: Getty)

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The poll results come after Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar raised the cases of two patients who faced long waits for treatment in the NHS.

He said one of them, Anne Sinclair, died this summer after waiting seven months for diagnoses and five months for treatment of an aggressive form of cancer.

Mr Sarwar said: “Her last words to her son Ricky were: ‘Keep fighting. Tell my story. We need to stop this happening to anyone else. I love you’.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said cases where the NHS falls short are unacceptable, but for the overwhelming majority it provides an outstanding service.

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Scottish Conservative Health and Social Care spokesperson Dr Sandesh Gulhane

Scottish Conservative Health and Social Care spokesperson Dr Sandesh Gulhane (Image: Getty)

Nicola Sturgeon NHS

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar during First Minister’s Questions (Image: Getty)

She said: “I don’t shy away from – I will never shy away from – the serious challenges and pressures on our National Health Service.

“That is why it’s so incumbent on Government to support the National Health Service with the investment and the other forms of support it needs.

“We will always do that for the sake of patients like Anne.”

Ms Sturgeon’s comments followed Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross urging the First Minister not to make political points out of issues with the NHS after she questioned his commitment to the health service.

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Scottish independence polling (Image: Express)

The pair clashed during First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, during which Ms Sturgeon hit out at Mr Ross’s previous support for scrapping the top rate of tax in the rest of the UK and calling for a similar move in Scotland.

Ms Sturgeon said such a shift in policy would give millions of pounds to the richest people in society instead of the NHS.

Mr Ross had been quizzing the First Minister over the performance of the NHS in Scotland after figures this week showed more than 5,000 people waited longer than 12 hours at A&E in August.

But Ms Sturgeon said: “It frankly beggars belief that Douglas Ross stands here today and talks about the National Health Service, because I think his concern for the National Health Service today is even less convincing than it normally is.

Nicola Sturgeon

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross during First Minister’s Questions (Image: Getty)

“Because, of course, he spent much of the last week arguing for us to take millions of pounds and put that into the pockets of the richest in our society, regardless of the impact that would have on our National Health Service.”

Mr Ross recounted his own experience with the NHS, mentioning how he was forced to drive behind an ambulance carrying his wife while she was in labour and seeing his newborn son undergo medical treatment.

He said: “First Minister, please don’t ever question my commitment to our National Health Service.

“When it was just over a year ago I had to follow my wife in an ambulance as she gave birth, when it was just over a year ago that I had to see my infant child on oxygen and fed through a tube in Aberdeen sick kids’ hospital. Don’t make political points out of this, when politicians are raising serious issues.”

The First Minister said she had enormous sympathy for Mr Ross’s experience, but added: “I do think it is reasonable to question the commitment to the National Health Service of anybody who argues for millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to go to cutting taxes for the richest in our society rather than be invested in the National Health Service.”

Ms Sturgeon was also questioned about a case where the turnaround time for an ambulance was longer than 13 hours. Mr Ross said the figure had come to his party as the result of a freedom of information request, as he attacked the First Minister over NHS waiting times.

The Scottish Tory leader said: “This is critical time when an ambulance could be deployed to help other patients.”

He then asked what the Scottish Government planned to do about the issue.

Alluding to an announcement of a £600million plan made by her Health Secretary this week, Ms Sturgeon said: “Of course, £45million for the Scottish Ambulance Service was part of the winter plan that was announced – and that was about Scotland’s National Health Service.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “In the last year we have had multiple waves of Covid which have undoubtedly continued to impact significantly upon the service the NHS is able to provide. Despite this, we have seen elements of recovery within the NHS, for example statistics out this week showing that in August over 21,000 operations were performed, the highest monthly total since the onset of the pandemic.

“The Cabinet Secretary for Health and Deputy First Minister are due to meet trade unions next week where a significantly improved pay offer will be tabled, we will work constructively with trade unions to do everything we can to avoid industrial action this Winter.

“Just this week we have outlined measures, backed by £600 million, to support services through winter including plans to recruit more frontline staff.

“Wages in Scotland’s NHS are highly competitive and our workforce have long had the best pay and conditions in the UK. We are committed to ensuring that continues to be the case.”



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