- Alfie Baron
It has emerged that NHS Grampian has been referring heart surgery patients to the National Waiting Times Centre in Clydebank as well as hospitals in Glasgow and the Lothians. In a further embarrassing twist Shona Robison has had to admit that a contract has been signed to allow NHS Grampian patients to be treated on the NHS in Newcastle.
The deal came to light after Tory MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston raised concerns that one of his constituents had waited three months for heart surgery.
NHS Grampian appear to be struggling to treat patients within the 12 week deadline. The blame is attributed to a lack of theatre staff and capacity issues within some wards.
Tory MSP, Jamie Halcro Johnston said: "The fact a health board in the north of Scotland is now depending on hospitals in England to treat heart patients shows the depth of the staffing crisis in Scotland’s NHS.
"Travelling to Newcastle for any patient in the Grampian area isn’t convenient, but even less so for those with heart problems. The Scottish government should count itself lucky that the NHS in Newcastle has offered to help out in this way."
He said the SNP “only has itself to blame for this unacceptable situation”.
An NHS Grampian spokeswoman said: "We are committed to ensuring that patients are seen as quickly as possible which means, occasionally, people are offered the opportunity of surgery elsewhere during peaks in demand."
Labour's Anas Sarwar has also repeated his demand for Nicola Sturgeon to sack Shona Robison. Mr Sarwar, who has just launched his Scottish Labour leadership bid, has promised to address NHS issues from "day one". Mr Sarwar highlighted the following areas in his leadership speech:
• Please a cap on agency fees (Total spending increased from £82.8million in 2011-12 to £171.4million in 2016-17)
• Reserve more places for Scottish medical students
• Boost funding so the health service becomes a better place to work
Mr Sarwar went on to say: "Under this SNP Government, the NHS is in distress.
“The reality is Shona Robison is out of her depth, out of ideas, is a failing minister. Nicola Sturgeon should do the right thing and sack her as Health Secretary.”