St John’s Hospital (Paediatric Services)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 27th September 2018.

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Photo of Jeane Freeman Jeane Freeman Scottish National Party

Mr Sarwar said “despite continued promises”. I have not made any promises. As the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, I am dealing with the situation now and the action that I have taken since June, and I am now reporting to Parliament on that.

I do not believe that my predecessors or I have issued

“warm words and false promises”,

so I also disagree with Mr Sarwar on that.

On the situation being symptomatic of wider workforce issues, I agree and have said before that there are workforce challenges in our health service and that a robust workforce planning mechanism is critical. Earlier today, Mr Sarwar and I discussed the bill on safer staffing that is before the Parliament. That is a critical element in contributing to robust data in order to have wider workforce plans and local health board workforce plans. I think that Mr Sarwar and I share a commitment to the broad position that he has set out. We may well disagree about how far we have got and what we might do next, but I think that, by and large, we are starting from the same place.

Mr Sarwar asked for a target date. For me, giving that would constitute

“warm words and false promises”.

I have said that I will come back to Parliament on the matter in January. I will do that because I will know by then how well we have got on with the recruitment of the additional staff and what I have said about when people will join the rota—how well have met the milestones that Mr Briggs asked about. At that point, I hope to be able to say when we expect the full 24/7 service to return and whether there are possible interim steps in extending the service between January and the final date. I will do that then.