Gil Paterson's speech at the NHS debate in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday September 21 2016.
Watch the full video below or see the transcript from the Scottish Parliament's official report.
Gil Paterson (Clydebank and Milngavie) (SNP):
Only last week, I spoke in a Labour debate on local health services, which in itself was a bit ironic. However, today’s debate is something else. We are here to debate a so-called national health service crisis.
I should really take the opportunity to check that today’s debate is not meant for Westminster. I need to check because the words “crisis” and “no confidence” in Donald Cameron’s motion are the words that are being uttered by patients, families and professionals about the current situation in NHS England, which is run by his Tory colleague Jeremy Hunt.
However, hold the presses—the Tories came across a report showing, according to Ruth Davidson, that NHS Scotland is facing “pockets of meltdown”. The report linked to an article that stated that
“hospital accident and emergency performance is now the worst it has ever been”
and to another story that said:
“we ended last financial year with trusts reporting the largest deficit in NHS history”.
That does not sound good at all for Scotland.
As the cabinet secretary said, out of the 94 hospitals that are covered in the report, only three are in Scotland, namely, Aberdeen royal infirmary, Ninewells hospital in Dundee and Raigmore hospital in Inverness. What the cabinet secretary did not say is that the accident and emergency performance levels for the areas in which those hospitals are located are 96.7 per cent for NHS Grampian, a phenomenal 99.2 per cent for NHS Tayside and 97.5 per cent for NHS Highland. The core A and E performance for Scotland overall in June was 95 per cent compared with under 86 per cent in Tory-run England, and under 79 per cent in Labour-run Wales. Overall, Scotland’s core A and E departments have outperformed the rest of the UK for the past 17 months.
Alex Cole-Hamilton (Edinburgh Western) (LD):
Will the member take an intervention?
You would have a cheek. Oh, my apologies. I mistook you for a Tory—carry on.
That has never happened before. I thank the member for giving way.
How does the constant misdirection to what is happening in other parts of the United Kingdom make up for the fact that there are patients languishing on waiting lists and in hospitals in the jurisdiction where Gil Paterson’s party has been in power for the past 10 years?
As my colleague pointed out, thank God it is us in power, because your record is the statistics that I am citing. It does not matter what performance indicator we look at; the Scottish Government outperforms any other, including your own.
The headline of the story about the aforementioned deficit reads “NHS hospitals in England reveal £2.45bn record deficit”. The original reference to meltdown is targeted at Tory-run NHS England, but here we are debating a report that has no relevance in Scotland.
I agree with the motion in commending the staff across NHS Scotland for their hard work and dedication. During the term of this Government we have seen our staff ensure that our hospitals are cleaner and safer. There have been major reductions in the number of hospital-acquired infections since 2007. The number of cases of Clostridium difficile in patients aged 65 and over has reduced by a whacking 86 per cent, and the number of cases of MRSA has reduced by 87 per cent. NHS Scotland has one of the safest healthcare systems in the world, with record low infection rates and an internationally recognised patient safety programme.
In primary care, I am proud to say that my constituency has benefited significantly from big investments in the Golden Jubilee hospital. As a result of the tremendous effort on the part of many people, the previous finance secretary, who played no small part in that effort, was able to announce that a new, much-needed health centre in Greenock will be built. That is not in my constituency, but a new Clydebank health centre that is in my constituency will be built as part of a combined capital investment of £38 million.
Will the member take an intervention?
That will allow the continuation of community health services in Clydebank. With mental health provision high on the Government’s agenda, I understand from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde that primary mental health services will form part of the new health centre, which will be the focal point for primary healthcare in Clydebank. For me, that only adds to the evidence of the importance of this area to the SNP Government.
Despite those positive results and the steps that have been taken by our NHS, Tories both here and in Westminster, through narrow-mindedness and self-interest, have taken Scotland into uncharted waters. With approximately one in 20 of NHS Scotland’s doctors coming from elsewhere in the EU, the Tories are threatening our NHS not just through front-door cuts to Scotland’s budget but via the back door using Brexit, which threatens our ability to recruit health and care staff in the future.
For the Conservatives to hold this debate on health is a bit rich and there is a considerable dose of Tory brass neck in calling it today. I commend the cabinet secretary’s amendment to the Parliament.
Press releases prepared by Alan Ferguson, Gil Paterson MSP's communications manager, who can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 07342 061722..