Waiting Times (NHS Grampian)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 21st December 2017.

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Photo of Jamie Halcro Johnston Jamie Halcro Johnston Conservative

5. To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on its work to reduce waiting times in NHS Grampian. (S5O-01608)

Photo of Shona Robison Shona Robison Scottish National Party

The Scottish Government is working closely with colleagues in NHS Grampian to support improvements around key performance targets.

NHS Grampian has received more than £8 million this year to improve all parts of the patient pathway—that is, out-patient consultation, diagnostic tests and in-patient and day-case treatment. A number of initiatives are under way to support sustainable improvements, including additional theatre sessions being delivered across a range of specialties from January 2018. We have also allocated more than £1.3 million to NHS Grampian to support resilience across unscheduled care pathways over the winter.

Photo of Jamie Halcro Johnston Jamie Halcro Johnston Conservative

I wrote to the cabinet secretary some months ago about the case of my constituent who has been waiting almost a year for cardiac surgery. To her credit, the cabinet secretary agreed that that wait was unacceptable. However, we now know from the most recent figures that only 33 per cent of patients who are waiting for child and adolescent mental health services in Grampian are seen within the 18-week target. That is by far the worst record in Scotland, and it is far below the national figure of 73 per cent. Does the cabinet’s secretary agree that that, too, is unacceptable? Will she make clear the timeframe within which she expects waiting times in Grampian to reach the national waiting times targets?

Photo of Shona Robison Shona Robison Scottish National Party

NHS Grampian is being supported to make improvements in waiting times across all specialties. Maureen Watt referred to mental health services in response to an earlier question, and we have a huge programme of work across CAMHS, including investment, more staffing and plans for each board to improve its waiting times. Some boards have further to travel in making those improvements, but we will continue to work with NHS Grampian and others to ensure that that happens.

Investment is hugely important, and we have made a commitment to fund the national health service going forward. If the Tory tax plans were followed in 2018-19, NHS Grampian would receive £49.5 million less than it will receive under our budget. Jamie Halcro Johnston might want to support our budget to ensure that NHS Grampian gets the support and resources that it requires.

Photo of Gillian Martin Gillian Martin Scottish National Party

Cold weather significantly increases the pressure on our accident and emergency departments. Will the cabinet secretary outline what additional steps have been taken to help winter planning and support people to transfer through the system over the winter months?

Photo of Shona Robison Shona Robison Scottish National Party

The combination of flu-like illness, norovirus and orthopaedic trauma has caused significant pressures on not only A and E services but the Scottish Ambulance Service in response to the increase in the number of cases. We have invested £22.4 million this year—a record level in any year—to support unscheduled care and winter resilience across health and social care services. However, it is a challenging time. Winter is always challenging, but the past couple of weeks have been particularly challenging and I place on record my thanks to all the staff who are working so hard in those challenging circumstances.

Photo of Liam McArthur Liam McArthur Liberal Democrat

The cabinet secretary will be aware that the capacity issues in NHS Grampian are having an impact on patients in the islands. She will also be aware that NHS Orkney is considering developing relationships with other health boards to address the long waiting times. Will she ensure that NHS Orkney is able to redeploy the full amount of the resource that is currently paid to NHS Grampian to deliver services?

Photo of Shona Robison Shona Robison Scottish National Party

I am happy to discuss that further with Liam McArthur. It is important that patients in NHS Orkney get access to prompt treatment. Traditionally, as Liam McArthur said, that has been provided by NHS Grampian, but we now have the Golden Jubilee national hospital, which provides a number of fantastic services for patients throughout Scotland. I am happy to write to Liam McArthur with further details but, if he wants to have a meeting to discuss the matter further, I am happy to sit down with him and do that.