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Humza Yousaf: Public’s low confidence in handling of NHS is ‘not a surprise’

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said he understands the public’s frustration with the NHS (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said he understands the public’s frustration with the NHS (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf has said it is “no surprise” that patients are frustrated with Scotland’s health service as a poll shows faith in the Scottish Government’s handling of the NHS is dwindling.

A ScotPulse Poll, commissioned by STV News, revealed 44% of 1,285 Scots had low to no confidence in how ministers are handling the health service.

And some 55% of respondents said they would consider private treatment if they could afford it, with 66% saying the standard of public healthcare is getting worse.

Mr Yousaf told the PA news agency: “I understand people’s frustrations with the health service.

“The health service has had the biggest shock in its 74-year existence. It’s going to take not weeks or months to recover, but years to recover from that.

“We’re not providing for everybody the level of service that I really want to see from the health service, but I’m pleased that the vast majority of people that do come through the doors here at our hospital do get a good level of care, compassion and support.

“But look, that’s going to take time to recover so it’s no surprise that people are feeling frustrated at some performance, unfortunately, that we continue to see.”

He spoke to the media after a visit to NHS Tayside’s Flow Navigation Centre, which answers emergency calls and directs people towards the most appropriate urgent care.

It comes as the number of beds occupied by people who were ready to be discharged from hospital reached a record average high of 1,898 in October.

And just 61.9% of people attending A&E departments were seen and subsequently admitted or discharged within four hours in the week up to November 27 – another record low, according to Public Health Scotland (PHS).

The Scottish Government’s target aims to have 95% of patients seen within four hours.

When asked when patients can realistically start to see signs of improvement, Mr Yousaf said: “First of all, we’re in the midst of winter, so I’ve always been upfront to say there will be fluctuations.

“So you’ll see some weeks where there will be improvements, in fact, if you go back a couple of weeks, we saw that improvement.

“You’re going to continue to see fluctuations throughout the course of winter and that can be because we’ll see spikes and viral infections like Strep A that’s being discussed in the media.

“We’ll see increases in flu and we’ll see increases in other respiratory viruses as well.

“There will be peaks and there will be troughs but I’m clear that the performance isn’t where I’d want it to be.

“But it’s going to take a period of time to recover.”