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Yousaf accused of ‘presiding over NHS collapse’ in heated debate

Humza Yousaf has come under fire over the crisis in the NHS (Jeff Moore/PA)
Humza Yousaf has come under fire over the crisis in the NHS (Jeff Moore/PA)

Opposition MSPs have accused Scotland’s Health Secretary of presiding over the “collapse of the NHS”.

Scottish Labour led a Holyrood debate on Wednesday addressing the crisis facing the health and social care sectors amid significant waiting times in emergency departments.

Latest data from Public Health Scotland shows 57.3% of attendees at A&E in the week to January 8 were seen within the four-week target – a small improvement from 56% in the previous week.

However, the target to see 95% of patients within four hours has not been met since the start of the pandemic.

Humza Yousaf
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf has again been urged to quit (Jane Barlow/PA)

Labour health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie accused Health Secretary Humza Yousaf of “serious failings” after senior doctors from the British Medical Association Scotland warned parts of the NHS have “already died”.

She said: “This is on your watch. In the 600 days you’ve been in office, you have performed worse than your predecessors and things have gotten worse, not better. It is time you take some responsibility for these serious failings.”

She accused Mr Yousaf of focusing on the crisis in England’s NHS rather than in Scotland.

“This is the Cabinet Secretary that is presiding over the collapse of the NHS in Scotland – and what he wants to do is talk about the NHS in England,” she said. “Completely irresponsible, a complete dereliction of duty.”

Mr Yousaf said the Labour-led debate had failed to mention the pandemic’s impact on the health crisis.

Jackie Baillie MSP comments
Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie hit out at Humza Yousaf’s record as Health Secretary (Andrew Milligan/PA)

He said: “This is the most challenging period that Scotland’s NHS, and I suspect NHS systems right across the UK, have ever faced.

“We recognise these unprecedented pressures and of course have put forward a series of actions announced in October last year in relation to helping our NHS and social care through this very challenging winter.

“Not a single mention in the Labour motion of Covid-19, which is still exerting enormous pressure on our health service.”

He told Ms Baillie that ignoring the pandemic is “to ignore reality”.

Scottish Conservative health spokesman Sandesh Gulhane said it was clear from the Health Secretary’s comments that he “just doesn’t get it”.

A&E sign
Patients in accident and emergency are facing long waits for treatment (PA)

Dr Gulhane added: “Under this Health Secretary, our NHS is on its knees, facing a perpetual winter with waiting times for A&E and cancer treatment at their worst ever levels.

“NHS Scotland is fantastic because it is full of fantastic, hardworking, dedicated professionals – it is the Cabinet Secretary who is clearly under-performing, not providing an effective plan but rather what can only be described as a flimsy recovery document.”

He went on to repeat his calls for the Health Secretary to stand down.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton, meanwhile, urged Mr Yousaf to “get to work” to fix the problems facing the service.