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Dr Gulhane: focus on saving lives, not saving cash

Dr Sandesh Gulhane MSP has said the SNP Government should call off planned efficiency savings in the Scottish Ambulance Service.

The Scottish Conservative Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health has challenged Humza Yousaf to take a series of actions to tackle the NHS crisis and said the focus must be on “saving lives, not saving cash.”

He urged the SNP to “call off the cuts” after a Scottish Ambulance Service financial performance report revealed they had been set a £15.35 million efficiency savings target for this year.

Ahead of the First Minister’s Covid update on Tuesday and Humza Yousaf’s long-awaited statement on ambulance services, the Scottish Conservatives called for the SNP to:

  • Halt planned efficiency savings in the Scottish Ambulance Service.
  • Announce an emergency funding package for the Scottish Ambulance Service, since the funding increase announced to date only just makes up for the planned efficiency savings.
  • Admit that the ambulance service is in crisis and declare major incident status.
  • Deliver a proper NHS Recovery plan to increase patient flow through NHS services.
  • Produce a new strategic plan for maximising UK Armed Forces assistance.
  • Publish new weekly ambulance response time data so progress can be measured in every region.
  • Establish a network of Long Covid clinics to ease the pressure on frontline services.
  • Set a target date for the return of in-person GP appointments for everyone who needs one, so that more people get medical treatment before they need an ambulance or need to present at A&E.
  • Reopen the Louisa Jordan or establish another major facility for non-critical cases, to further help to prevent frontline services from being overwhelmed. This would increase surge capacity if necessary.

Scottish Conservative Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health, Dr Sandesh Gulhane MSP, said: “The focus of the SNP Government right now must be on saving lives, not saving cash.

“Despite the heroic efforts of frontline staff, we have already seen too many patients let down by a government without a real plan and systemic failures in Scotland’s NHS that are now spiralling out of control.

“Our ambulance service should not be expected to devote energy to finding efficiency savings when it’s at breaking point. And Scotland’s NHS is in crisis, even if Humza Yousaf and Nicola Sturgeon won’t admit it.

“So call off the cuts now and let’s focus on solutions.

“You don’t try to fix the roof in the middle of a storm and the health secretary has said himself that Scotland’s NHS is facing a “perfect storm” right now.

“I am sure that the SNP Government will try to justify these stealth cuts – these “efficiency savings” – with PR friendly excuses.

“But we need substance now, not spin. Humza Yousaf cannot credibly claim that the ambulance service should be focused on finding ways to cut back in the middle of a crisis.

“The Scottish Conservatives are bringing solutions to the table based on what would help frontline NHS Scotland services and I hope the SNP Government will listen.”

Notes

The Scottish Ambulance Service has been given a £15.35 million efficiency savings target this year. The services’ July financial performance report stated: ‘Efficiency savings target for the financial year is £15.35 million…The Best Value Programme has identified over £9.6 million of plans and ideas against our £15.35 million target. Plans of £4.1 million (full year) have already been implemented and are expected to deliver in full. (Scottish Ambulance Service, Board Finance Report July 2021, pg.3 &4, 28 July 2021, link).