SNP politician blasted by Labor rival over “spin” that paints a “rosy picture” of NHS troubles

A politician has been blasted over “tone deaf” comments as he hailed “record” investment in health from Scotland’s government – amid a string of dismal Accident and Emergency figures.

MSP Tom Arthur heralded the Holyrood government’s role in earmarking “record funding” for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde for the coming year, saying it demonstrates that “only the SNP can be trusted to protect Scotland’s NHS”.

But the remarks fly in the face of evidence from burnt out staff and NHS data, which shows that Paisley’s Royal Alexandra Hospital is regularly seeing less than 60 per cent of emergency patients within Scottish Government timescales.

Staff at the RAH have valiantly battled on during the pandemic

Now Paisley-based MSP Neil Bibby, who has pressured Holyrood leaders on behalf of worn out staff at the Corsebar Road facility, branded his nationalist Renfrewshire South rival “out of touch” and said NHS workers are unlikely to recognize the “rosy picture” he paints.

Mr Arthur’s remarks backing the Scottish Government’s handling of the NHS crisis comes as health bosses at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde have repeatedly appealed for residents to steer clear of struggling A&E departments in the wake of a fresh wave of covid cases which they say has their facilities at near capacity.

Both the RAH and the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Govan have been amongst Scotland’s worst performers against Scottish Government targets which demand that 95 per cent of patients are treated, admitted or discharged within four hours of attendance at hospital emergency departments, since the pandemic began.

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But the SNP MSP has backed the news that a budget of £2,504 billion has been allocated for 2022/23, to aid recovery from the “dreadful” toll the pandemic has taken.

He said the Glasgow board also boasts record numbers of staff under the SNP Government – with 3,200.60 Whole Time Equivalent staff, up 9.7 per cent on the previous year.

The SNP Renfrewshire South politician said: “We always appreciate the hard work and dedication of our staff at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde but never more so than over the past two years and the SNP Scottish Government has recognized that by providing them with record funding for 2022/23.

“This will go a long way in ensuring that NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde is well on its way to recovery from the pandemic.”

He added: “In Scotland, we have the most well-funded NHS per person and the highest paid healthcare staff in the UK. The SNP Scottish Government recognized the hard work and effort of NHS workers by giving them the biggest pay rise in history of return.

“It is only the SNP that can be trusted with the future of our health service. On May 5 the people of Renfrewshire can send a message that the future of our NHS cannot be trusted to the Tories.”

Scottish Government Health supremo Humza Yousaf was forced to visit the RAH last month in a bid to iron out issues at the hospital.

It came after staff leaders repeatedly told of a “dire” situation at the hospital where staff are “on their knees” after battling on through the pandemic.

They also reported “chronic” shortages of personnel at the RAH as far back as October.

In one incident, a qualified nurse for just one year was left in sole charge of more than 20 patients on a specialist gastro ward during a nightshift.

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And Paisley great Jeanette Carden compared the site to the “third world” last September, when she spent more than eight hours in the back of an ambulance waiting to be admitted before becoming the lone female patient in an all male ward.

She contracted E-Coli during her stay and told how the body of a deceased patient was left on her ward for hours.

Labor rival Neil Bibby told the Express: “These amazingly tone-deaf comments show just how out of touch and complacent the SNP has become when it comes to the state of our health service.

“How many RAH staff and patients recognize the absurd, rosy picture Tom Arthur is painting? If things are so terrific, why do we have waiting times at near-record lows, and a repair backlog of £70m? I hope Tom Arthur is ready to explain and defend his complacent comments to RAH patients and staff.”

Labour’s Neil Bibby has fought for staff at RAH

The West Scotland politician added: “The reality is that the RAH is facing unprecedented challenges and the makings of an NHS spring crisis. We need action now to tackle the systemic failings that have created such bad outcomes for NHS staff and patients, not complacent self -congratulation after 15 years in power.

“Labor will always put our NHS first. On May 5th, the people of Renfrewshire can send a very clear message to the SNP Government – they need to get a grip and work urgently to address the challenges at the RAH, not offer us ludicrous self -serving spin.”

Latest figures for the week ending April 3 show that 59.8 per cent of the 1,040 patients who attended for emergency treatment at the RAH were treated in line with the Scottish Government four hour target.

Data shows 418 patients waited more than four hours, while 149 waited more than eight. Some 54 patients notched up waits of 12 hours or more. Govan’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital saw just 48 per cent of patients within the target time.

A spokesman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said their sites continue to be under pressure, telling the Express: “As we head into Easter, our A&E continues to face extreme pressures.

“Frontline staff are working tirelessly to see and treat as many people as possible during this difficult period. We continue to urge patients not to attend our A&E unless very urgent or life-threatening. Anyone who thinks they need urgent medical attention should call NHS24 on 111 this weekend.

“We would also like to remind patients to ensure that ahead of the weekend, if they require prescriptions written or fulfilled, to speak to the GP or Community Pharmacy now, as many of these services will be restricted over the Easter break. Full information on Pharmacy opening hours will be published tomorrow (13 April 2022) on our website and GP services will resume on Tuesday.”

We also earlier this year how the RAH had notched up the longest ambulance turnaround time in Scotland as figures obtained by Scottish Labor under a Freedom of Information request for the period from October 1 to January 31 showed that one crew waited 10 hours and 41 minutes before their patients could be admitted.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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