Sturgeon faces claims of NHS "scandal"

Nicola Sturgeon today faced claims that funding shortfalls in the NHS have become a "scandal" and that the service is now in "crisis."

Ruth Davidson branded NHS a "scandal"

The First Minister was told that one patisnt, left unable walk with a blocked artery, is facing a seven month wait for an appointment in the NHS as she faced MSPs today.

The criticism from opposition leaders at First Ministers Questions came after a new report from public spending watchdog Audit Scotland which warned that funding shortfalls has the left the service struggling to keep pace with changes.

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Tory leader Ruth Davidson said: "I think we need to spell out things today for what they are and that's the failure of this Government to get grips with the NHS and it is an outrage

"Health boards are having to make huge savings to break even, to take out loans to keep going and to put of essential repairs to hospital buildings.

"And yet we learn today that because of this Government's failure to manage staffing there has been a 47% increase in agency nursing and midwifery staff and - staggeringly - that individual agency doctors are being paid over £400,000 each to provide cover for periods of less than a year.

"And all of that while patient care suffers from cuts and hospital buildings are left to crumble - I call it a scandal.

Labour leader Kezia Dugdale raised the case of James Neilson, a 77-year old former miner who has a blocked artery in his leg. He has been advised by NHS Lothian that he will have to wait seven months to see a consultant.

Ms Dugdale said: “Nicola Sturgeon cannot ignore what patients and staff are saying about the NHS in Scotland. The Audit Scotland report is damning. The independent experts have produced a grim diagnosis after a decade of SNP control of the NHS.

“Under the SNP funding is not keeping pace with increasing demand and patient need, only one of eight key targets has been met, and there is a growing workforce crisis."

But the First Minister insisted that funding for the NHS Scotland has been increasing since the SNP came to power.

"Health service funding is higher than when we came to office, the number of people working in our health service is higher than when we took office and waiting times are lower," the First Minister.

The SNP leader also hit out at the "hypocrisy" of the Tory leader Ruth Davidson on the issue.

"She talks about the financial performance of health boards in Scotland and of course that is challenging, but health boards in Scotland met all of their financial targets as narrated by Audit Scotland today.

"In the same year that Audit Scotland is looking at, the NHS in England had a £2.5 billion deficit - three times the deficit it had in the previous year."

She added that the amount spent on agency nurses in Scotland is a third of the level UK-wide.

"Our NHS faces challenges, but these challenges are not unique to Scotland they are challenges faced by health systems around the world," Ms Sturgeon added.

"But when it comes to facing up to these challenges Scotland is performing well compared to other parts of the UK."