FMQs: Sturgeon under fire over NHS “crisis”

Nicola Sturgeon has come under fire over “fundamental systemic problems” in the NHS amid growing concermns over hospital and GP waits.

Nicola Sturgeon came under fire over 'fundamental systemic problems' in the NHS at FMQs today. Picture: Andrew O'Brien
Nicola Sturgeon came under fire over 'fundamental systemic problems' in the NHS at FMQs today. Picture: Andrew O'Brien

It comes after a team of Government troubleshooters was sent into the new £850 million South Glasgow University Hospital this week over the worst accident and emergency waits in Scotland.

Labour, the Tories and Liberal Democrat opposition all called on Ms Sturgeon to tackle the growing “crisis” in the health service at First Ministers Questions today.

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“There are fundamental problems that cannot be ignored,” Labour acting leader Iain Gray said today.

“The fact that the SNP haven’t met their own A&E waiting time target for 296 weeks in a row tells its own story.

“Just two months after the new £850 million South Glasgow University Hospital was opened it already has the worst record on A&E waiting times and needs an emergency hit squad. That’s just not right.

“People in Scotland are growing tired of the SNP’s excuses on A&E waiting times. Scots are rightly wondering how many years the SNP need in government before they will fix the mess they have made.”

The First Minister said that the team of experts in Glasgow have already agreed new measures on better management of beds and smoother discharge of patients.

But she added; “I’ve already said that notwithstanding the initial challenges A&E performance in Glasgow has been below what I expected it to be.

“That’s why, as a responsible, competent Government we have sent in a support team made of expert clinical advisors.”

She said this will ensure the “great new facility” will deliver for all patients.

But she added: “If you look at the performance of the new hospital in terms of planned and scheduled care, it is performing generally very well.

“This is a big exercise and I think all of us should get behind the staff who are working so hard to make it a success.”

Tory leader Ruth Davidson raised concerns over the number of vacancies for consultants and nurses, after public spending watchdog Audit Scotland warned of problems in a recent report.

“Fewer beds, more vacancies, Audit Scotland alarms, criticism from consultants and warnings from nurses,” Ms Davidson said.

“The Scottish Government has sent a hit squad to the Southern - but what about the rest of our NHS?”

Liberal Democrat chief Willie Rennie said the situation in GP practices is “heading towards a crisis.”

He added: “Doctors are retiring early or going part-time leading to major shortages.”

Mr Rennie said 12 medical practices in Fife are short of GPs, a practice in Aberdeen has cut the number of appointments, while elderly patients in Edinburgh have been told to “go elsewhere” because their practice can’t cope.

“The First Minister needs to recognise that this is a crisis - because that’s exactly what it is,” he said.