Last week, I called on the SNP Government to apologise to patients in Grampian for missing the NHS 18-week Treatment Guarantee again in December.
New statistics published showed that just 84.9 per cent of patients were dealt with under the terms of the guarantee in December. This was a small improvement over previous figures in November but behind the position in October (88 per cent).
It was disappointing to see that Grampian was the second worst performing board with only Ayrshire and Arran have a greater percentage of patients outwith this guarantee.
The situation an NHS Grampian is unacceptable. Despite a tiny increase in performance we are actually in a worse position that we were back in October and have been missing waiting times targets for some time now.
The Cabinet Secretary needs to understand the critical nature of the position and realise that the 18 week target is a minimum standard which should be met. The figures clearly show that in December 938 patients from the Grampian region were outside that target and that is simply not good enough and does not meet the high standards that patients expect and we know NHS Grampian staff are capable of.
The word ‘guarantee’ obviously has a very different meaning to the SNP than the general public and the situation in Grampian - despite the huge dedication and skill of doctors, nurses and support staff appears to be stuck in a mire of underinvestment and malaise.
NHS Grampian has some of the most talented and committed health staff in the country but the sad fact is that the SNP Government continue to let them and patients down by not allocating enough resources to rectify the problems of meeting waiting times targets and recruiting staff that our health board needs.
We know that NHS Grampian are almost 400 nurses short yet the Scottish Government seem to be unwilling to take the urgent steps needed to address this.
That is why I support Labour’s calls for a mansion tax on properties over £2 million where the money raised will be invested in our health service and deliver some 1000 extra nurses here in Scotland.
It is clear that the leadership at NHS Grampian are not being supported appropriately and it is time that this changed.