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Health Secretary is standing with his hands in his pockets over winter health crisis

January 8, 2013 3:46 PM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

At Topical Questions today, Scottish Liberal Democrat health Jim HumeJim Humespokesperson Jim Hume MSP asked the Health Secretary about what steps the Scottish Government is taking to ensure that NHS accident and emergency units are able to cope with increased demand on their during the winter.

The Health Secretary refused to agree to meet with officials and Health Board Chief Executives to ascertain solutions available to him and any emergency funds available to tackle the crisis of increased winter bugs such as the Norovirus. Given that A&E units already face pressures to meet waiting targets, the Scottish Liberal Democrats remain concerned that increased winter illnesses could tip these services over the edge.

Commenting after topical questions, Mr Hume said:

"The Health Secretary is standing with his hands in his pockets when he should be proactively dealing with pressures on our A&E units before the situation worsens. If the winter gets colder we could see increased cases of Norovirus and other illnesses brought about by colder climates.

"We know that A&E units are already struggling to meet waiting times targets. We've heard that some patients had to wait over half a day to be seen. The Chair of the College of Emergency Medicine in Scotland has even said that the capacity to deal with extra pressures during the winter months simply isn't there at the moment.

"Any increased demand could tip our A&E units over the edge. It is therefore hugely frustrating that the Health Secretary won't even agree to meet with Health Board Chief Executives to get a grip of this situation."