Health sec­re­tary is­sues apol­ogy to all NHS staff

Dundee MSP ad­mits many feel win­ter is­sues could have been han­dled bet­ter

The Courier & Advertiser (Fife Edition) - - NEWS - Derek healey dhealey@the­

Health Sec­re­tary Shona Ro­bi­son has apol­o­gised to be­lea­guered NHS staff fol­low­ing crit­i­cism over her han­dling of win­ter strains on the ser­vice.

Dundee MSP Ms Ro­bi­son ad­mit­ted health chiefs have lessons to learn af­ter se­nior staff hit out at “ab­so­lutely hope­less” man­age­ment of staffing lev­els, bed short­ages and ev­er­in­creas­ing work­loads in light of the ex­tra de­mand.

“I would apol­o­gise to staff if they feel that things could have been done bet­ter and we al­ways learn lessons from win­ter – we would ex­pect lo­cal man­agers to do the same,” Ms Ro­bi­son said dur­ing an event in Dundee yes­ter­day.

“Af­ter ev­ery win­ter, there is a very full anal­y­sis of what went well and where there are lessons to be learned and I would ex­pect ev­ery se­nior man­age­ment team in ev­ery health board to be do­ing that.”

Ms Ro­bi­son thanked staff for “work­ing so hard over the past few weeks in par­tic­u­lar” and filling ex­tra shifts.

She added that she “un­der­stands the frus­tra­tion” agency work­ers pose to nurses and other staff and in­sisted the health ser­vice is work­ing to “dra­mat­i­cally re­duce” the num­ber used.

One charge nurse, who has more than 20 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing for NHS Tay­side, claimed morale has hit rock bot­tom as man­agers “shell out more and more cash” on agency work­ers and pres­sure staff to work in­creased hours to cover the short­fall.

“Man­age­ment are ex­pect­ing us to get by on good­will alone but the truth is many of us are at the end of our teth­ers,” she said.

“Even if we wanted to work more hours, the law means we can only do so many and you have to ask how much one per­son can do.

“Se­nior nurses are hav­ing to come away from the ward, work their way through call lists and even hire trained agency nurses to fill shifts for health­care as­sis­tants at dou­ble the cost just to get the bod­ies in – we can’t go on like this.”

First Min­is­ter Nicola Stur­geon apol­o­gised on Mon­day to pa­tients who have faced de­lays for treat­ment and while the health sec­re­tary echoed Ms Stur­geon’s sen­ti­ments, she had pre­vi­ously fallen short of ad­dress­ing staff con­cerns di­rectly.

Scot­tish Labour health spokesman Anas Sar­war in­sisted the apol­ogy must be fol­lowed up by “real ac­tion”.

“Af­ter a decade of SNP mis­man­age­ment, our NHS is deep in a work­force cri­sis with the health sec­re­tary of­fer­ing no so­lu­tion,” he said.

“A real apol­ogy would be backed up by real ac­tion but the SNP Govern­ment has noth­ing but warm words for our un­der­re­sourced and un­der-staffed health ser­vice.”

North-east Con­ser­va­tive MSP Bill Bow­man said: “Shona Ro­bi­son will have wit­nessed how ill-pre­pared her own lo­cal health board were for a hard win­ter of flu and frac­tures.

“Win­ter is the tough­est time for the NHS in terms of get­ting peo­ple seen to on time, but an apol­ogy will not mat­ter much to th­ese nurses.”

I would apol­o­gise to staff if they feel that things could have been done bet­ter and we al­ways learn lessons from win­ter

Pic­ture: Kim Cess­ford.

Health Sec­re­tary Shona Ro­bi­son chats to Asda staff in­volved in the Drinkaware cam­paign at Asda Mil­ton, Dundee.

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