Humza Yousaf told comparisons between NHS Scotland and the rest of the UK 'angers nurses'
Health secretary Humza Yousaf was told that comparing the performance of the NHS in Scotland to the rest of the UK “angers nurses”.
During a Holyrood fringe event at the SNP conference in Aberdeen, Colin Poolman, director of the Royal College of Nursing Scotland, said his members didn't want to hear comparisons with how the NHS is faring in other parts of the UK.
Earlier in the day, Yousaf met members of the RCN demonstrating outside the venue.
Asked whether it was any consolation that the NHS is struggling elsewhere in the UK, something regularly referenced by Scottish Government ministers, Poolman said: “It angers nurses. They get told that we have more nurses [in Scotland], their pay is slightly better. It is all relative.
“It is not about comparing them; it is about meeting the demands of the people of Scotland.”
Yousaf was quick to acknowledge the point made by Poolman and was keen to get a across that the reason that his party compares NHS Scotland with other nations in the UK was because the criticism “usually comes from the opposition saying this is only happening in Scotland.”
Yousaf highlighted again that it was “a problem in the UK” and even “potentially across the world”.
Earlier, He was confronted by nurses from the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) who were angry about pay and conditions. RCN is now balloting for industrial action after a fiver per cent pay increase could not be agreed upon.
The health secretary was also asked about ambulance waiting times, in particular, one person who had to wait 32 hours - a case which was raised at First Minister's Questions this week. He told the audience that the example was “not acceptable”, but he was keen to point out that this was “an exceptional case”.
Yousaf went further, saying: “I apologise to anybody who gets or receives an experience that is far below what the expectations of the health service that they expect...
“Where it [NHS Scotland] is failing, we have got to be upfront about that.”
He told the audience that the impact of the pandemic on the health service was one of the main factors for recent waiting times being so poor, adding that “the recovery will take many, many years to come”.
The most recent health figures released by Public Health Scotland that showed only 63.5 per cent of patients were seen within four hours at A&E in the week to 11 September, far below the government’s own target of 95 per cent.
Further to this, a freedom of information request by the Scottish Conservatives revealed that one patient in Ayrshire waited 84 hours to be seen at A&E.