It’s time to end the bed blocking scandal, Humza - Ian Murray

More than 5000 days were spent in hospital by people across Edinburgh whose discharge was delayed in June this year alone.
Bed blocking has been a persistent problem in Edinburgh and LothianBed blocking has been a persistent problem in Edinburgh and Lothian
Bed blocking has been a persistent problem in Edinburgh and Lothian

This has a catastrophic impact on the NHS, because the patients are ready to leave hospital but can’t do so – creating a massive backlog for treatment capacity – not to mention the detrimental impact on patients stuck in bed.

As anyone waiting to see a specialist or needing an operation knows only too well, waiting times are horrific in Scotland’s health service right now and GP registration in some parts is almost impossible.

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Once upon a time, the SNP promised to eradicate ‘delayed discharge’, and only a few months ago First Minister Humza Yousaf claimed he would prioritise it. I’m starting to think PMs and FMs prioritising problems is the kiss of death.

The way to tackle this is by improving the social care system so that when patients are discharged – particularly older, vulnerable patients – they have access to the right support.

Unfortunately, the chaos engulfing Scotland’s care service has left thousands stuck in limbo, with more than 6000 Scots waiting for an assessment to receive care services.

Recent July figures show there were 6253 people in Scotland waiting for a social care assessment in the community or in hospital, and another 3964 who had been assessed but were still awaiting a care package.

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This amounts to over 10,000 patients stuck waiting for care.

That is the direct result of SNP underinvestment and workforce shortages (and let’s never forget who first decided to start cutting the NHS workforce – Nicola Sturgeon when she was First Minister).

Hardworking staff are struggling to cope with the increased demand they are facing, and patients are suffering.

And this is just one aspect of the health service crisis – there are still major problems with A&E waiting times, access to GPs, and access to an NHS dentist.

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You would think that any government in tune with the people’s priorities would be focused on this.

Instead, the summer recess period has seen the First Minister and his supporters devote their time to their constitutional obsession with more fantasy papers.

What an insult to all those languishing in hospital beds.

Instead of receiving the social care support they deserve and need, they get to watch the SNP leader talk about what colour a passport might be in an independent Scotland.

Priorities indeed.

The time has surely come for the SNP to put aside its negative campaign to divide us and focus instead on delivering the change that the social care sector really needs.

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Yousaf’s in-tray is overflowing: one in seven Scots stuck on NHS waiting lists; an average of 100 drug deaths every month; the number of affordable houses starting construction down by 42 per cent; 546,600 households due to pay an average of £190 more a month on their mortgages next year.

Yet during a cost-of-living crisis and an emergency in our public sector, the SNP thinks spending public money and using up civil service time on another paper on separation is justifiable.

How out of touch can you get?

Starting in Rutherglen and Hamilton West, where a by-election is looming, Scotland needs change.

Only Scottish Labour is serious about fixing the issues this country faces and delivering that change.

Ian Murray is Labour MP for Edinburgh South