NHS: SNP incompetence is ruining the health service. Health Secretary Humza Yousaf must go – Ian Murray

“Demand for GP services is at a record level, far outstripping pre-pandemic levels.”

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf is under pressure over the NHS crisis (Picture: Peter Summers/Getty Images)
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf is under pressure over the NHS crisis (Picture: Peter Summers/Getty Images)

That’s what a group of doctors in Edinburgh told me in a letter which exposes the scale of the crisis in our NHS. They warn “unprecedented pressures” are having a negative impact on their ability to provide care to patients.

Speak to anyone in Edinburgh and they will have an anecdote to tell you about the struggle to access a GP. Being told there are no appointments available for weeks. Trying to phone the surgery at 8am, getting the engaged tone, before finally getting through and all appointments have gone. Or simply not even trying to see a doctor and just hoping their illness disappears.

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The anecdotes are backed up by the data. The first update on GP numbers since 2019, published this week, shows they are falling. This is despite rising patient numbers, Covid-related demands, and years of stark warnings over the pressures in primary care and general practice. Two years ago NHS Lothian warned local GP services would “fail”.

Meanwhile, the number of Scots languishing on waiting lists for hospital procedures, outpatient appointments and diagnostic tests has soared to one-in-seven Scots. And A&E waiting times are the worst on record, with only 63.1 per cent of patients admitted, transferred, or discharged within the target four hours.

Our NHS is on its knees. Dedicated staff are going above and beyond, but they are simply under too much pressure and do not have the resources they deserve. This is a full-blown emergency, yet the SNP simply isn’t interested.

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In an extraordinary interview on Channel 4 News, SNP Edinburgh Central MSP Angus Robertson was asked about his party’s dismal record on the NHS, and he replied: “If people were so unhappy with how Scotland is governed, we would not have won eight elections in a row."

A typically insulting response. Nothing to see here, move along. I know that Angus doesn’t like to pay attention to public opinion (or he would abandon his campaign for an unwanted second independence referendum) but a recent poll by Ipsos Mori found that just 22 per cent of Scots think the Scottish Government has done a good job of improving the NHS since the last election.

The SNP is just not doing its job and is too distracted by its obsession with independence. Health Secretary Humza Yousaf is missing in action. I’m still waiting to hear back from him about the chronic shortage of GP facilities in south Edinburgh following the huge expansion in housing.

Time’s up. The worst Health Secretary we have had since devolution should resign, and if he fails to do so, Nicola Sturgeon must sack him. He’s lost the confidence of NHS staff, patients and the public.

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His incompetence is creating a two-tier health service, with those who can afford it opting for private healthcare given the unprecedented waits in the NHS. And more importantly, the soaring number of patients on waiting lists means Scots are losing their lives before receiving vital treatment.

Hundreds of thousands of lives and the survival of our cherished NHS are on the line. For Scotland’s sake, Humza Yousaf must go and the Scottish Government must give this health emergency the focus it deserves.

Ian Murray is Labour MP for Edinburgh South