Scottish Tories slam SNP ‘inertia’ over NHS staffing crisis

A 'crisis' is looming due to an ageing workforce, GP shortages and the cost of temporary cover. Picture: Ian Georgeson

A 'crisis' is looming due to an ageing workforce, GP shortages and the cost of temporary cover. Picture: Ian Georgeson

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The Tories have accused the Scottish Government of “inertia and listlessness” in tackling the staffing “crisis” in the NHS.

Party health spokesman Donald Cameron used a debate at Holyrood to call for urgent action to tackle staffing shortages.

He said the hard work of NHS employees was “under threat” as a result of a lack of planning to cope with an ageing workforce, GP shortages and the cost of temporary cover.

Mr Cameron told MSPs: “It has become clear that the NHS workforce is overstretched and struggling to meet ever-increasing demands on frontline services.

“I have no hesitation in condemning the sheer lethargy of the Scottish Government which has brought us to this point.

“Often in politics some of the most robust arguments we have are about stark, vigorous policy choices taken by a government for better or for worse, but not here.

“Despite the repeated warnings, there is no sign of vigour, instead, we have inertia, we have listlessness, we have a Scottish Government sleepwalking through this crisis.”

He continued: “It’s time for the SNP to take responsibility, and belatedly take action.

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“Everyone in this parliament cares about our NHS but words are not enough now.

“The Scottish Government’s programme for government was weak on short-staffing, weak on supporting primary care and weak on supporting our hard-working doctors, nurses, social care workers and other health professionals.

“Scotland deserves better and while the staffing requires immediate actions, there is a long-term aspect of this too.

“We have to create a sustainable NHS that is properly staffed over the next five years, but also over the next 25 years.”

Health Secretary Shona Robison accused the Scottish Conservatives of double standards, pointing out the NHS in England faced similar problems.

She said: “We will point out the double standards of the Tories coming to this place, criticising our record on the NHS when the record of their own party in government in England is woeful to say the least.

“I could quote many, many organisations that are saying much more powerful words about the record of the Tory party in charge of the NHS in England.

“We only have to look at the junior doctors’ strikes that have been happening in England compared to the constructive partnership relationship we have with our professions here north of the border.”

Ms Robison added: “I want to be very clear about the record of this government on staff numbers.

“In Scotland we are better equipped to deliver services than we have ever been but, yes, there are challenges, absolutely.”

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