Leader: ‘Front-line staff must be looked after’

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The waiting list crisis which engulfed NHS Lothian was never going to be an easy fix. The priority for health bosses is to get as many patients seen as quickly as possible and regain control of the situation.

But if this has led to some key staff pulling repeated 72-hour weeks then questions have to be asked.

NHS Lothian assures us today that staff hours being properly monitored and patient safety remains the top priority.

It says it has “no evidence” that some have worked constantly for three months.

Perhaps not, but that doesn’t mean the claims should not be taken seriously, especially as they were expressed by a senior member of staff.

It is understandable that the thought of being seen by an over-worked and over-tired surgeon or nurse will raise alarm bells among patients, which is why Margo 
MacDonald is right to ask for an investigation to clearly establish the situation.

If it transpires that medical staff are working dangerously long hours then we will expect action to be taken.

The health board’s new chief executive, Tim Davison, has shown strong leadership in navigating NHS Lothian out of this crisis and we trust this issue will be addressed in the same way.

The front-line staff are the health board’s most valuable asset and we need to ensure they are not only at the top of their game but – like the patients – are being properly looked after.

Everyone wants to see waiting lists brought down as quickly and efficiently as possible – but not at all costs.

Historical gem

HOW many people knew the incredible story of Edinburgh-born and bred Confederate war hero Robert A Smith?

Even among visitors to the Dean Cemetery, where a striking memorial to the soldier who crossed the Atlantic to find fame in the US Civil War stands proudly, precious few will know his story.

But he certainly deserves to be remembered for his bravery and remarkable military career – despite fighting on what we inevitably see as the wrong side today.

Scots, of course, played a huge part in shaping the United States that we know today and Colonel Smith’s story make a fascinating footnote to that tale.

It is one of the joys of Edinburgh that even after decades living here it can still surprise and captivate you with yet another historical gem like this.