After a decade of underfunding, it is clear that our health care services in the North East are not coping.
In my last newsletter, I mentioned that child mental health services have failed to hit their treatment time targets by a total of 1.7 million days since they were introduced in 2015. That figure includes 168,210 days for Tayside and Grampian in the year 2017/18 alone.
To make matters worse, we heard last week that in the final quarter of 2018, less than half of the children referred to NHS Grampian and NHS Tayside for mental health issues received treatment within 18 weeks.
As if that were not bad enough, separate figures published this week show that 260 of 714 patients in Scotland still waiting for chronic pain treatment 18 weeks after being referred, fall under NHS Grampian. Only one in seven patients referred to NHS Grampian for chronic pain in Q4 2018 received treatment within the Scottish Government’s own 18-week target.
I hope you will agree with me that these figures are a disgrace. Letting children and patients suffer for over four months while waiting for their first appointment is an appalling situation.
This is entirely down to a lack of resources. Over the past decade, the Scottish Government has repeatedly failed to deliver even its own funding targets for the North East. NHS Grampian, for example, now has a total funding shortfall of £239.2 million for that period from the Scottish Government.
Scottish minister had an opportunity in this year’s budget to set that right and deliver vital investment to make up the shortage. Despite £2 billion extra for health care in Scotland this year, not a penny of that will go toward reimbursing our local health care services for ten years of underfunding.
Not a week goes by where our North East health boards fail to miss crucial targets for patient care in areas like cancer waiting times, chronic pain treatment and emergency care.
I have repeatedly raised this issue with the SNP Government but my concerns have fallen on deaf ears. We need an entirely new approach from our Scottish Government and ministers need to look again at how they fund our NHS in the North East.
Mike Rumbles MSP
PS – You may be aware that the BBC are hosting a brand new Scottish Debate Night each week on its recently launched BBC Scotland channel. The format is similar to Question Time and the audience and panellists represent a variety of political views and issues from across Scotland.
So far, the show has been exclusively based in Edinburgh but the producers are keen to represent the other regions of Scotland as well.
I think it is important that people from our area also have their say. If you have an interest in raising this issue or going along to one of the debates please find the BBC’s application form here.