Scottish Daily Mail

£300m NHS sticking plaster for 820k Scots STILL on waiting lists

- By Kate Foster Scottish Health Editor

HUMZA Yousaf was yesterday accused of having a ‘brass neck’ after announcing extra cash that will make just a ‘small dent’ in Scotland’s soaring NHS waiting lists.

The First Minister said £300million would be put into efforts to cut the number of patients waiting by 100,000.

Critics said his target, if met, would have a limited impact on the overall waiting list figure – there are more than 820,000 people waiting for operations, treatment and vital tests.

Mr Yousaf is pledging £100million a year over the next three years to try to clear the backlog, but opponents said the cash is needed after his ‘chaotic time in charge of Scotland’s NHS’.

Scottish Conservati­ve deputy health spokesman Tess White said: ‘The public won’t be fooled by this announceme­nt. They won’t trust Humza Yousaf to fix the mess he created while he was health secretary.

‘It is the failure of his NHS Recovery Plan, produced during his chaotic time in charge of Scotland’s NHS, that means he is having to announce this funding – even then, it may only make a small dent in the soaring backlogs in our health service, where one in seven Scots is now on a waiting list. Humza Yousaf has a brass neck trumpeting this funding, when patients and dedicated frontline staff are already suffering due to his failures.’

The money is being spent on trying to reduce the inpatient and day-case waiting list by an estimated 100,000 patients by 2026. It currently stands at almost 150,000.

No funding was announced to tackle the outpatient list, which has risen two-fold since the start of the pandemic to 518,491, or diagnostic tests, at more than 152,000.

In his speech, Mr Yousaf said: ‘Too many people are still waiting too long for treatment and that’s why I am announcing today that in each of the next three years we will provide an extra £100million to cut waiting lists in our NHS.

‘This will allow us to maximise capacity... and deliver year-on-year reductions in the number of patients who have waited far too long. This

‘Crucial how the money is allocated’

will reduce waiting lists by an estimated 100,000 patients by 2026.’

Dr Iain Kennedy, chairman of the British Medical Associatio­n in Scotland, said: ‘While we await the details of this funding, any extra investment is not merely welcome but indeed desperatel­y needed – mindful of the cuts the Government made to mental health, social care and primary care in autumn 2022, and as we head into what looks like another incredibly challengin­g winter period.

‘What is crucial – and isn’t clear at this stage – is how the money will be allocated to ensure it delivers sustainabl­e improvemen­ts across the whole health and care system and isn’t simply an eye-catching soundbite designed to generate headlines.’

Dr Kennedy added: ‘Any initiative to tackle waiting lists is simply not worth the paper it is written on if whole-system workforce planning is not right at its heart. We are not clear how the additional funding is going to help, though, if healthcare workers are already at capacity – so we need to hear that from the Government in short order.’

Decisions on the Scottish Government’s spending plans for 2024-25 and future years are subject to the outcome of the Scottish Budget process and associated approval by the Scottish parliament.

The Scottish Government will present the draft Budget 2024-25 to Holyrood in December.

As for where funding for the pledge will come from, Wellbeing Economy Secretary Neil Gray said yesterday: ‘Obviously, we have to find it within a fixed budget.’

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