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Nicola Sturgeon is coming under pressure to recall MSPs back to Holyrood early from their Christmas recess to launch an “emergency response” to the “unprecedented crisis” in the NHS. Scottish ministers are not due back at their desks until next Tuesday – around a week after most people in Scotland will have returned to work after the holidays. But Shadow Health Secretary Dr Sandesh Gulhane is demanding the SNP leader recall ministers back to parliament immediately to deal with the mounting crisis engulfing the country’s health service.
The Scottish Government has been plunged into further crisis after Scotland recorded its worst-ever A&E waiting times over the Christmas and New Year period.
Consultants at Scotland’s biggest hospital, the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, sought to have a “major incident” declared due to concerns over patient safety.
Scottish Conservative Dr Gulhane is a practicing GP and has been taking part in locum shifts around Scotland over the festive period to experience the problems on the frontline.
But he has returned with a stern warning that the situation is the worst he has ever seen.
Dr Gulhane said: “It’s no exaggeration to say Scotland’s NHS is on life support at the moment – and an emergency response is needed from Nicola Sturgeon.
“Our health service is in the midst of an unprecedented crisis – by far the worst in my clinical career.
“The system is hanging together by a thread. Years of dire workforce planning by successive SNP health secretaries has left us with a desperate shortfall of frontline staff in all areas of the NHS – nurses, GPs, specialist doctors.
“This – coupled with Humza Yousaf’s woefully-inadequate Covid Recovery Plan, lack of leadership and undermining of staff – has left our health service in the perilous situation where lives are being needlessly lost.
“I’ve experienced first-hand how bad things are, and how over-stretched and shattered staff are, during locum GP shifts over the holidays.
“Each day, it seems, a fresh apocalyptic warning is issued by a senior medic or health board, yet Humza Yousaf is missing in action and there is silence from the government.
He added: “Our NHS can’t afford to wait until next week for action from the health secretary – who staff have lost faith in, and who ought to be sacked – or an SNP government which has typically made a debate on independence its first priority in parliamentary business for the new year.
“That’s why I’m calling on Nicola Sturgeon to reconvene parliament this week to debate the enormous crisis that is continuing to unfold on her watch.”
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On December 29, Dr Gulhane had tweeted: “Today I’m in rainy East Scotland seeing patients in GP. Different health board but almost exactly the same issues.
“Patients are struggling and staff are burning out here in our Scottish NHS.”
One person replied by asking if he had expressed his fears over the health service to Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf.
The shadow Health Secretary replied: “Every time I talk in Parliament. Plus I’ve published an alternative recovery paper that would actually help our patients.”
Dr Iain Kennedy, Chairman of the (British Medical Association) BMA Scotland, also warned that the country’s health service is “broken” and can’t survive in its current form.
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