NHS Lanarkshire (Risk Level)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 29 September 2022.

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Photo of Monica Lennon Monica Lennon Labour

5. To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to safeguard patients and staff within NHS Lanarkshire, in light of reports of the national health service board returning its risk level to code black. (S6O-01408)

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

Scotland’s health boards operate their own escalation policy for the management of whole-system capacity. That includes well-established processes with locally agreed trigger points for maintaining a safe service and ensuring patient safety. The Scottish Government is in daily contact with NHS Lanarkshire to monitor the situation. It has an improvement plan in place, which we are also closely monitoring.

Photo of Monica Lennon Monica Lennon Labour

I know that the cabinet secretary is fed up with listening to me on the issue, but I put on record that the code black emergency in NHS Lanarkshire has lasted for a total of 260 days between last October and now. This year alone, it has been at code black level for 189 days. That means that there is no capacity and that it is unsafe for patients and staff.

I am grateful that the cabinet secretary has agreed that we need an emergency summit. Can we get an update on when that is likely to take place and an assurance that trade unions will be invited? I have had emails, including from Mr Downie about his wife Rosemary, who was admitted to hospital last week but waited for more than 10 hours in accident and emergency. She should have been seen by a consultant last December but does not yet have an appointment. Mr Downie’s concern is not only for his wife but for the staff, who are on their knees. Will the trade unions be involved at that summit?

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

I am not at all fed up with hearing from Monica Lennon—far from it. She has raised that issue with me on a number occasions recently and she has every right to do so. I am extremely concerned about the situation across our national health service, given the pandemic pressures that we are facing, but particularly in NHS Lanarkshire, where those pressures are significantly acute.

If my office has not already reached out to Monica Lennon, it will be reaching out to her this week about possible dates for that meeting.

I think that MSPs and MPs from across political parties will be invited. I will consider whether it is appropriate to invite trade unions to the meeting or whether a wider separate meeting should take place. I regularly meet and engage with our staff-side trade unions, which are a key stakeholder in getting Lanarkshire out of that highest level of escalation and on to a steadier footing.

Photo of Graham Simpson Graham Simpson Conservative

NHS Lanarkshire does not have problems just in A and E. It has real problems with delayed discharges—the average wait for discharge is 33 days. General practices are suffering, too. One practice in East Kilbride is emergency only. Patients cannot get to see a GP. That is not acceptable. I urge the cabinet secretary, when he holds the summit, to widen out the discussions so that they are not just about A and E, because there are severe problems in Lanarkshire across the board.

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

The meeting is not just about A and E. Delayed discharges have an impact on A and E, because the capacity issues affect flow, which then has an impact on the front door of any Lanarkshire acute site. I will ensure that the conversation is broadened out to MSPs and MPs of all political parties and that it addresses the whole healthcare and social care system.

The Scottish Government will continue its record levels of investment in the NHS. I ask Graham Simpson, if he has any influence with the United Kingdom Government—I doubt that he does—that he plead with it not to take a hatchet to public services as it is threatening to do because of its economic vandalism of this country.