NHS crisis: Return of refugee to Ukraine for treatment makes extent of Scottish health service's problems crystal clear – Scotsman comment

For anyone labouring under the misapprehension that the NHS is not in a most severe crisis, the news that a refugee from Ukraine has returned home to get medical treatment – because the wait in Scotland was too long – must surely, finally, lift the scales from their eyes.

Speaking at First Minister’s Questions in the Holyrood parliament, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton told how Maria, 22, who has a hormonal thyroid condition, had been living in Scotland since the summer. However, on visiting a GP, she found that the wait to get tests and treatment would be so long that “it actually made more sense for her to risk travelling back to a war zone to see her doctor in Kyiv and so she did”.

“Presiding Officer, the air raid sirens, the drone strikes and the cruise missile attacks of the Ukrainian capital were less daunting to Maria than the wait for treatment on Scotland’s NHS. That is appalling,” Cole-Hamilton said.

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Nicola Sturgeon’s response – that there were more GPs per head of population in Scotland than in the rest of the UK – was typical. But if the health service in Scotland is worse than the one in a country that has been invaded and must deal with vast numbers of casualties – in addition to Covid, winter flu and all the problems we are facing – then that is a much more telling comparison.

The fact that the Conservative government is also making a mess of England’s NHS provides no defence for the SNP, just as Rishi Sunak cannot escape criticism by pointing a finger at problems in Scotland.

This hotel in central Kyiv was hit by a Russian missile strike on New Year's Eve (Picture: Sergei Supinsky/AFP via Getty Images)

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