Shona Robison under pressure over handling of flu crisis

Both Labour and the Tories have accused Shona Robison of not doing enough to increase the flu vaccination uptake.
Both Labour and the Tories have accused Shona Robison of not doing enough to increase the flu vaccination uptake.
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Opposition parties have ramped up the pressure on the Scottish Government over its handling of the flu crisis.

Both Labour and the Tories accused Health Secretary Shona Robison of not doing enough to ensure the vaccination uptake, particularly among the NHS workforce, was sufficient to combat the illness.

This comes on the back of a warning from Professor Derek Bell, chairman of the Academy of Scottish Royal Colleges and Specialist Societies, who said that hospitals could be forced to postpone more operations as the flu outbreak takes hold.

Shadow health secretary Miles Briggs said: “Despite our repeated calls for action, the SNP has totally failed to ensure enough of our NHS workforce was vaccinated prior to the flu epidemic. The effects are clear to see: cancelled operations and massive queues at A&E.

“With waiting times at crisis levels, the BMA has now called for action, not thanks, and the Scottish Conservatives agree.”

Scottish Labour health spokesperson Anas Sarwar said “lessons have to be learned” from the current winter crisis”.

He added: “The extent of the flu virus is taking a clear strain on the health service this winter.

“Clearly lessons have to be learned from this winter and Shona Robison must consider what should be done next year to boost the take-up of vaccinations.”

The Scottish Government responded to the criticism by saying that more healthcare staff were vaccinated this year compared to last.

A spokesperson said: “NHS organisations offer all employees involved in delivering care the flu vaccine and boards across Scotland have worked hard to promote uptake among staff. We estimate that more health-care staff, both patient-facing and non patient-facing, were vaccinated this year than last. There is still time to receive the vaccine and we would encourage more NHS staff to do so.

“This year’s flu vaccine is a good match for the current predominant strain of virus in Scotland and has an excellent safety record.”

Meanwhile, a number of Boots stores “temporarily” ran out of flu vaccinations on Friday amid rising concerns about the virus.

NHS trusts have faced rising numbers of flu cases and respiratory illness, with 48 flu-related deaths in England and eight in Scotland so far this winter.