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Time for Humza Yousaf to spell out credible NHS winter recovery plan

The Scottish Conservatives are demanding that Humza Yousaf uses tomorrow’s hastily-arranged ministerial statement on health to outline a credible plan to get Scotland’s NHS through the winter – because his current one is palpably failing.

The SNP Government today belatedly responded to a festive period dominated by record-bad A&E stats, health board pleas for staff to cancel leave and apocalyptic warnings from senior medics by shoehorning in a statement on the NHS to tomorrow’s parliamentary timetable.

Astonishingly, the one-hour slot requested by SNP business managers does not replace their long-scheduled debate on independence, which retains a slot of one hour and 40 minutes.

Shadow health secretary Sandesh Gulhane – whose calls for parliament to be recalled last week in light of the NHS crisis were ignored by the SNP – is calling on the beleaguered health secretary to ditch his “woefully inadequate” plans and adopt a credible blueprint for recovery.

Dr Gulhane, who worked several locum GP shifts over the Christmas holidays, is urging Humza Yousaf to finally adopt the measures in the Real Winter Recovery Plan for our NHS, published by the Scottish Conservatives last month.

The paper outlines policies that would ease the pressure on our health service now.

These include: introducing new crisis waiting times and an NHS care app to let patients see live hospital waiting times; Super Saturday treatment slots to clear backlogs; a network of mobile testing and drive-through facilities; a full electronic repeat prescription system; ‘prehab’ for those awaiting treatment.

 

Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary Dr Sandesh Gulhane MSP said: “After weeks of radio silence from SNP ministers, they have finally bowed to pressure from myself and others to respond to the escalating crisis they’re presiding over in Scotland’s NHS. But this is too little, too late.

“It was a shocking dereliction of duty that Humza Yousaf and Nicola Sturgeon were missing in action despite siren warnings from leading medics, health boards begging staff to abandon holidays to help them cope with demand, and the publication of the worst-ever A&E waiting times.

“But it’s no good them, belatedly, just talking the talk – with hastily-arranged press conferences and long-overdue ministerial statements – the health secretary must walk the walk too.

“Worried patients and over-stretched staff don’t need to hear more platitudes; they need fresh measures to ease the huge pressures on our NHS, because Humza Yousaf’s winter plan – like his flimsy Covid recovery plan – has failed miserably.

“The Scottish Conservatives published a series of sensible, practical measures that could make a difference to our NHS now yet, to date, the SNP Government have not adopted any of them.

“That has to change. Humza Yousaf must accept his lack of preparation and woefully inadequate plans for the winter crisis have been brutally exposed, and implement the policies we published last month.

“It’s shameful – and very telling – that despite having grudgingly agreed to deliver a ministerial statement on the NHS crisis, the SNP have freed up just an hour of the parliamentary timetable for it. They also refused to drop their self-serving debate on independence, which will run for one hour and 40 minutes.

“Even at the height of arguably the worst crisis in our NHS’s history, the constitution still trumps everything for Nicola Sturgeon. It confirms again her shockingly skewed priorities.”