NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (Meetings)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 29 September 2022.

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Photo of Neil Bibby Neil Bibby Labour

3. To ask the Scottish Government when the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care last met with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, and what issues were discussed. (S6O-01406)

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

We last met on 26 September and discussed matters of importance to the local populace.

Photo of Neil Bibby Neil Bibby Labour

The last time that the cabinet secretary visited the Royal Alexandra hospital in Paisley was in March this year. Since his visit, things have gone from bad to worse. Even fewer patients are now being seen at accident and emergency within four hours: the average for the six months since his visit is under 60 per cent, while in March it was over 66 per cent.

The national health service recovery plan clearly is not working, and nearly one in five beds has been cut at the hospital over the past 10 years. Staff have very serious concerns about services and the patients that they are caring for.

What action will the cabinet secretary take directly for the RAH now to reverse that appalling decline and to ensure that people can access the healthcare that they need?

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

Neil Bibby raises some very important points indeed. As he knows, when I was at the RAH, I also met a number of staff and staff representatives. I am grateful to the staff at the RAH. Data on the RAH that was published last week shows performance improving from the week before, when it was not at acceptable levels at all. The data recorded that the number of 12-hour-long waits had significantly reduced from the week before, as had eight-hour waits. I am really grateful to the staff for what they have done.

Next week, I will come to Parliament to give details of our winter plan. We will continue to invest in staffing. In Greater Glasgow and Clyde, for example, there has been a significant increase in staff since last year—both registered staff and healthcare support workers, who are helping on the social care side, where there is significant pressure, too. I will continue to engage with staff and to expand the workforce. We have record levels of staff working in our NHS under this Government. I will update Parliament fully next week.

Photo of Bill Kidd Bill Kidd Scottish National Party

During yesterday’s meeting of the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee, the medical director of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Dr Jennifer Armstrong, raised concerns with MSPs about significant impacts on mental health and primary care services as more families are pushed into food and fuel poverty.

Does the cabinet secretary share those concerns? Does he also agree that the United Kingdom Government needs to use the economic levers at its disposal to protect households that are struggling to pay their bills and heat their homes, instead of leaving it to the Scottish healthcare system to pick up the pieces?

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

Yes, I agree. I am not sure why there are moans and groans coming from those on the Conservative benches. As Bill Kidd rightly says, that issue was raised by Dr Jennifer Armstrong. It is fair to say that the cost crisis—the UK Government’s economic vandalism—is a public health crisis. There is no doubt about that whatsoever. People have to choose between heating and eating, and either choice will leave them worse off with regard to their health.

This Government will step up and do what we can in terms of anti-poverty measures. We will look to mitigate as much as we possibly can. However, we know that the meaningful levers—the fiscal and economic levers—lie in the hands of a Government that, frankly, no one has seen. It is about time that it came out of hiding and did the right thing.