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Lib Dems say operations backlog is due to ‘broken promises and empty words’

The Scottish Lib Dems said 313,674 operations were cancelled during the Covid-19 pandemic (Peter Byrne/PA)
The Scottish Lib Dems said 313,674 operations were cancelled during the Covid-19 pandemic (Peter Byrne/PA)

A backlog of operations in Scotland is the result of “broken promises and empty words” from the Government, the Scottish Liberal Democrats have said.

The party made the statement on Thursday as it revealed 313,674 operations were cancelled during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The findings came from the party’s analysis of figures from Public Health Scotland, where it said it compared the average pre-pandemic levels of NHS activity with the number of operations that had been scheduled over the last two years.

Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “Broken promises and empty words have come to define the SNP’s response to our health crisis.

“We are now confronting a mountain of lost operations, and it is one this government must face up to.

“Patients are suffering, enduring pain and awaiting treatment. NHS workers are suffering, navigating staff shortages and working around the clock to deliver patient care.

“The SNP failed staff and patients when they voted down the Scottish Liberal Democrats’ Burnout Prevention Strategy. If staff are fleeing the profession, any hope of tackling the backlog is futile.”

Mr Cole-Hamilton also called on the Scottish Government to back Lib Dem calls for guarantees on annual leave and time off in lieu for staff.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Throughout the pandemic NHS boards have ensured that urgent, maternity and vital cancer services continue as usual and have worked hard to ensure vital cancer care remains in place where clinically agreed.

“Even with the effects of new variants putting more pressure on our NHS, we are starting to see a recovery in the number of operations that are being performed.

“Compared to the same period last year there has been an increase of over 20% in the number of operations carried out in the first four months of this year.

“We’re committed to supporting our record high number of NHS staff, and this year we have made £12 million available to support their wellbeing.”