NHS recovery plan branded a ‘flimsy pamphlet’ by Scottish Tories

Opposition parties at Holyrood have criticised a £1 billion NHS recovery plan, claiming it does not go far enough.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Health Secretary Humza Yousaf launched the plan on Wednesday, pledging to tackle the backlogs that have built up during the Covid-19 pandemic and increase NHS capacity by 10%.

Reforms are promised to both primary care – which includes doctors and dentists – and across Scotland’s hospitals.

A priority in the plan is for the return of face-to-face appointments with GPs “as quickly and as safely as possible” – with family doctors having switched to virtual and telephone consultations as a result of coronavirus.

Annie Wells
Annie Wells described the plan as ’embarrassingly thin’ (Fraser Bremner/Scottish Daily Mail/PA)

Tory health spokeswoman Annie Wells described the plan as a “flimsy pamphlet”.

She said: “If this flimsy pamphlet is the best that Humza Yousaf can come up with, Scotland’s NHS is in real trouble.

“This delayed plan is mostly a lift from their manifesto and a regurgitation of undelivered promises from failed SNP health ministers of old.

“It’s embarrassingly thin – made for PR purposes, not for our NHS.”

Ms Wells went on to criticise the Scottish Government for not making mention of treatment of long Covid, no extra money for drug and alcohol treatment or funding for A&E, despite adherence to the four-hour standard falling to the lowest levels since records began this month, according to figures released on Tuesday.

Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie said the plan was “as underwhelming as it is overdue”.

“Frankly, this plan does not even begin to chart a path to the full remobilisation of our NHS. Targets promised before the election have disappeared from the plan,” she added.

“Most disappointing of all is that the SNP has entirely failed to comprehend the size of the NHS backlog.

“In this plan the majority of the new national treatment centres will not be opened until the second half of the parliament. This is simply not good enough.

“Our NHS is facing a real crisis due to the SNP’s catastrophic failure to remobilise our NHS.

“Services are being cut, A&E is in crisis and hospitals are at breaking point.

“What frontline NHS workers and the people of Scotland need is urgent action from the SNP, not PR stunts and half-baked plans.”

Professor Michael Griffin, president of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, said: “While I am entirely supportive of the principles set out in the NHS Recovery Plan, I am doubtful about how much of a difference some of these measures will make in the short term.

“Workforce is a major issue in the NHS, and while recruitment of more staff is addressed in these plans, this will take a long time and therefore will not help the health service’s short term recovery.

“Likewise, a commitment to increasing the number of medical students each year is a positive step, but this will make little to no difference for around a decade, given the length of time required for medical students to train.

“I believe more could be done to improve staff wellbeing in the workplace and to ensure people feel valued and supported, which will be key to retaining staff.

“The plans for dedicated diagnostic hubs are welcome, but they will need to be amply staffed, and moving members of the workforce from one area to another in order to do so is not a sustainable solution.

“We are facing one of the very worst crises in the history of the National Health Service, so there are no quick fixes, and while I believe the aspirations set out in this plan are positive, I believe they could go even further in order to help in the short term.”

Richmond and Twickenham Times | UK News