FMQs: Nicola Sturgeon questioned on Edinburgh Sick Kids Hospital waiting times for surgery

Long delays for spinal surgery, says doctor at Edinburgh’s Sick Kids Hospital
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Nicola Sturgeon has asked officials to obtain “external assurance” over claims made by a leading surgeon but denied by NHS Lothian over long waiting times faced by children needing spinal surgery.

Dr Chris Adams, one of Scotland's three paediatric spinal surgeons, who is based at Edinburgh’s new Sick Kids Hospital, has said nursing shortages are contributing to children waiting up to three times longer for spinal surgery than pre-pandemic and some were waiting more than a year. He also claimed up to one in four such operations in NHS Lothian were being cancelled, with staffing the main reason. One of his patients last year had an operation cancelled six times.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

His claims, made in a BBC documentary, were raised at First Minister’s Questions by Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar, who highlighted the case of nine-year-old Harvey Martin who suffers from a genetic condition that causes tumours to grow on the nervous system. Mr Sarwar said Harvey, who lives in Inverclyde, was told in August last year that he needed urgent surgery within four weeks to correct a curve in his spine, but seven months on he was still waiting. Now his mother Natalie could no longer watch him suffer and she was looking at options to have the surgery carried out privately and fundraise to pay for the operation.

Harvey Martin with his mother Natalie.Harvey Martin with his mother Natalie.
Harvey Martin with his mother Natalie.

Mr Sarwar asked: “Why are children having to wait so long for urgent treatment? And why are families having to contemplate paying to relieve their child’s pain?” Ms Sturgeon said no family should contemplate that. She said she did not know the detail of Harvey’s case but would look into it.

And she continued: “I have heard concerns expressed by Dr Chris Adams. I know these concerns have been investigated by NHS Lothian – and these are general, not in relation to Harvey’s case in particular. They have been investigated by NHS Lothian, but I have this morning asked officials to ensure we have more external ssurance to satisfy ourselves that there is no substance to these concerns.”