Health secretary Humza Yousaf comes under fire as NHS Forth Valley comes under Scottish Government control

Health secretary Humza Yousaf has come under further criticism for widespread healthcare cuts, as NHS Forth Valley was brought under the control of the Scottish Government.

NHS Forth Valley has been escalated to stage four of NHS Scotland’s National Performance Framework for Governance, Leadership and Culture, following concerns the health board’s leadership has failed to improve performance in a number of key areas.

The Government will now oversee the development and delivery of NHS Forth Valley’s improvement plan, to address concerns in out of hours and unscheduled care.

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Mr Yousaf said: “Staff in NHS Forth Valley continue to work tirelessly to deliver the high quality care we expect. However, there are continuing concerns about the ability of the leadership to effectively respond to issues when raised.

Health secretary Humza Yousaf on a visit to Forth Valley Royal Hospital. Picture: Michael Gillen
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“We have been engaging with NHS Forth Valley for some time on a range of performance-related issues, including concerns around GP out-of-hours services and unscheduled care. The common barrier to improvement in these areas is governance, leadership and culture.

“Escalation to stage four will bring direct oversight from the Scottish Government and we will work with Forth Valley to ensure immediate improvement. Significant work is already under way to address the legitimate concerns raised and I will update Parliament as progress is made.”

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The decision comes after the Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert recorded its worst ever waiting time performance earlier this month, with only 38 per cent of patients seen, discharged or admitted within the four-hour target.

During a Scottish Labour Party debate in the Scottish Parliament, the party’s health spokesperson Jackie Baillie criticised the Government’s plans to cut £400 million from its health and social care budget, including £65m from the primary care development fund, and £5m from the GP sustainability fund.

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“This is just about the most wrong-headed decision I have seen, cutting resources from GPs when they are most needed during a winter crisis,” she said.

“It is breath-taking incompetence on the part of this SNP health minister because GPs are on their knees and if you fail to address these serious concerns, then more people will end up in already overwhelmed acute services when they could have been dealt with locally in primary care. I urge the Cabinet secretary – reverse the cuts.”

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Mr Yousaf said one area he “would love” to save money on is the repayments towards “Labour’s disastrous PFI and PPP projects”, which he claimed cost the Government £250m a year.

The health secretary said: “In terms of our GP practices and primary care, they have been impacted by Brexit, by the pandemic, and, of course, by the cost-of-living crisis.

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“We will continue to invest in our multidisciplinary teams. Jackie Baillie seems to be talking them down, but 3,220 multidisciplinary staff and professionals have been recruited since 2018.”

Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary Dr Sandesh Gulhane also took issue with Mr Yousaf’s record as health secretary, saying: “Here’s a snapshot – the worst cancer waiting times on record. The worst delayed discharge record with an average of 1,832 beds occupied each day due to delayed discharge, and you're hearing the Cabinet secretary say our position is better than England. We live in Scotland.”

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