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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
10 November 2022
Deputy First Minister told “the NHS is in crisis”

Deputy First Minster John Swinney

Deputy First Minister told “the NHS is in crisis”

Douglas Ross has called for Humza Yousaf to be sacked as Anas Sarwar hit out at the "worst crisis our NHS has ever seen" at as the Scottish Government came under fire at First Minister's Questions.

The Deputy First Minister defended his government’s approach to recovery on the NHS, while addressing the decision of the Royal College of Nurses to go on strike for the first time in their history.

Challenging John Swinney on the state of patient safety in the National Health Service, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Douglas Ross, echoed the comments of Hilary Nelson of the Royal College of Nurses telling him that “things are not safe for patients”.

Swinney - stepping in for Nicola Sturgeon, who today was in talks with the PM - told Ross that Scotland is currently employing the highest level of nurses on record, while admitting there still are vacancies that have not been filled.  

On striking a pay deal for nurses, he said: “There have been extensive negotiations that the health secretary and myself have been involved in to try to resolve the pay issue. And we have put forward a record pay deal which will be a seven per cent increase, and an 11 per cent increase for those on the lowest incomes.”

Ross was scathing of health secretary Humza Yousaf, he said: “It is beyond doubt, this Health Secretary has failed...

“It is the 14th time since Humza Yousaf became health secretary that A&E waiting times have hit their worst ever levels.”

Swinney rebutted Ross’ comments by pointing that “we have the best performing A&E system in the United Kingdom.”

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar pointed out to the Deputy First Minister that “nurses have been underpaid a long time before the pandemic”. He quoted Julie Lamberth of the Royal College of Nurses, who described the last ten years as “a decade of failure”.  

Swinney was keen to point out that “we have record staffing levels in the NHS” and that vacancies have not been helped by the blocking of freedom of movement caused by Brexit.  

Sarwar described the UK Government as “rotten” and said they should “pay the price” for the economic crisis. But then was keen to highlight more failings of the NHS Scotland. He pointed to figures from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, that reported 216 investigations into “significant adverse events that could have or did result in harm to people or groups of people” in which six people died as a result.

He said of the DFM: “His head is in the sand. If it is so good [staffing level], why are they striking for the first time in their history?”

Swinney responded: “The Scottish Government is absolutely focused on giving the necessary leadership and resourcing to addressing those circumstances.”

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