THE First Minister has apologised ‘unreservedly’ to patients caught up in this winter’s NHS crisis.

In the week between Christmas and New Year, 78.7 per cent of patients attending A&E at the IRH were admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours.

The target is 95 per cent — a target missed both locally and across the country.

Winter brings flu bugs and adverse weather, as it does every year, but these latest figures are alarming.

Pressure on the health service is mounting and questions are to be asked about the extent to which health boards and the Scottish Government were properly prepared going into the winter period.

It was only a few weeks ago that Audit Scotland reported that health boards were making unsustainable savings and struggling to maintain quality of care.

The NHS faces increasing challenges, they warned, and crucial building blocks to enable change still need to be put in place. Seven out of eight key measures of performance were being missed.

These are stark warnings and they do not come in isolation.
Last year, the Royal College of Nursing in Scotland warned of a brain drain, with over a third of the workforce said to be looking for a new job. 

The British Medical Association in Scotland say the NHS is being stretched to ‘breaking point’.
Throughout 2017, there were 100,000 cases of people waiting longer than the four-hour standard in Scotland’s A&E units. In almost 2000 cases, patients were waiting more than TWELVE hours.

If the First Minister’s apology is to mean anything then it must be backed up with action to address the crisis.

The SNP government have been in power for over 10 years.

Time and again they have been warned that the health service is overstretched and that hard-pressed staff are under constant pressure.

This winter the NHS is meltdown.

Too many patients are not getting the service they need and too many frontline NHS workers are not getting the support they deserve.

The country can’t go on like this. We need action and we need it now. That means intervention to support hospitals like the IRH through the rest of the winter and a long-term plan to make the NHS fit for the future.