Covid Scotland: Claim Scottish Government's NHS remobilisation group 'abandoned'

The Scottish Government has been labelled “unthinkably reckless” for abandoning an advisory group on NHS remobilisation after the May elections.

The Mobilisation Recovery Group was set up in the summer of 2020 with a focus on remobilising the NHS after the initial pandemic lockdown.

Its members included a raft of senior figures from within the NHS, representatives from health colleges and unions, and Scottish Government ministers.

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But the group, which met every two weeks until April 16, has not re-convened after the Holyrood elections in May, and the response to a Freedom of Information request from Scottish Labour found subsequent meetings had been cancelled.

Health Secretary, Humza Yousaf speaking in the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood, Edinburgh. Picture date: Tuesday October 5, 2021.
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Minutes from the group’s final meeting include a reference to planned future sessions.

Correspondence with members shows the group was paused in May to give the new cabinet secretary for health, Humza Yousaf, “time to consider how best to undertake stakeholder engagement as we remobilise and recover the NHS in this next stage of the pandemic”.

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A government official said in July that plans for the future of the group were close to being finalised, but that they could not be more definitive at that stage.

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Scottish Labour said it was “astounding” that the government had not reconvened the group, and labelled the move “unthinkably reckless”.

“It is astounding that the government would scrap this key group when our NHS is teetering on the brink of a full blown crisis,” said Scottish Labour’s Health and Covid Recovery spokesperson Jackie Baillie.

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“The SNP insist that NHS remobilisation is a priority – but this unthinkably reckless move shows that isn’t the case.

“The group was sounding the alarm on mounting pressures months ago, but Humza Yousaf decided to bury his head in the sand until things reached crisis point.”

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A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said a new group, the “System Response Group (SRG)”, has been set up since the election.

“The SRG is comprised of strategic leaders from across the NHS and care systems and engages with wide array of stakeholders,” the spokesperson said.

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"NHS and Social Care workforce planning also takes place through the National Workforce Planning Group and the National Workforce Forum, with the latter overseeing the forthcoming publication of a National Workforce Strategy.”

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