Tag Archives: Scotland

Campaigners ‘disappointed’ as muscular dystrophy treatment denied

A new drug used to treat the underlying causes of Duchenne muscular dystrophy has been rejected for routine use in Scottish hospitals.

Michael Young, nine, who has the condition, recently lobbied Nicola Sturgeon campaigning for the treatment.

The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) said it was not satisfied that routine use of ataluren would “represent a good use of NHS resources.”

It said there was “uncertainty” over health benefits in relation to cost.

SMC chairman Prof Jonathan Fox said it was “disappointing” that the committee was unable to recommend the drug, whose trade name is Translarna, for routine use.

He said: “We know that DMD significantly reduces life expectancy and the committee heard about its profound impact on people with the condition, their families and carers.

“There is a clear unmet need for an effective treatment for this devastating condition.

“Despite the very powerful and moving testimonies given by patient groups and clinicians for this medicine, there was uncertainty around the overall health benefits in relation to the medicine’s cost and the committee was not satisfied that it would represent a good use of NHS resources.”

‘We are bitterly disappointed’

Michael, from Larbert in Stirlingshire, took part in a clinical trial during the development of Translarna.

He wrote to Ms Sturgeon explaining about his condition and asking for her to “help boys to keep walking”.

The first minister explained that the assessment procedure had to be “entirely independent of government”.

PTC Therapeutics, the company which develops the treatment, is expected to resubmit the drug to the committee.

Muscular Dystrophy UK’s chief executive Robert Meadowcroft said: “We are bitterly disappointed by today’s announcement.

“Our thoughts are with the Scottish families whose every hope has been pinned on this decision.

“They have endured an 18-month wait for news about a drug that could transform their sons’ childhoods, only to receive this blow today.

“We are now calling on Translarna’s producers to negotiate a sustainable price and to work with the SMC towards a solution, to ensure Scottish families don’t miss out on a drug that could transform lives.”

The SMC said in a statement: “The committee was unable to recommend ataluren for routine use in NHS Scotland for patients with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (MD).

“The treatment is licensed for use in those patients with a rare genetic mutation that affects 13% of those with the condition.

“Duchenne MD is life limiting disease which causes muscle wasting.

“The committee was unable to recommend ataluren as there was too much uncertainty about the overall clinical benefits it might bring in relation to its cost.

“Following a meeting between the company and SMC, the company has indicated their intention to resubmit.”

The committee accepted three new medicines for routine use in Scottish hospitals.

These were everolimus for advanced breast cancer, isavuconazole for serious fungal infections and camellia sinensis for genital and perianal warts.

Eculizumab, which is used to treat rare genetic blood disease Paroxysmal Nocturnal Haemoglobinuria (PNH) was also rejected for routine use along with ataluren.

Source BBC News

People with dementia need better support

It is estimated that 90,000 people in Scotland have some form of dementia – just under 8,000 of them in Glasgow alone – a figure that is expected to rise dramatically in the coming years.

Unfortunately, most funding for supporting people with dementia is currently focussed on end-stage care rather than proactive risk reduction, assessment, and earlier diagnosis.

We need a fundamental change across society in how we approach dementia, to prevent a bleak future where older people at risk of dementia and their families are severely challenged in an unfriendly and confusing world.

Initial steps have already been taken in Scotland – where diagnosis rates are among the highest in the UK – but thereafter there is a need for a “community wrap-around” which would see schools, employers, care providers and agencies acting together to increase awareness and support, and gain a better understanding of ways to reduce our own risks of developing dementia.

The “community wrap-around” would include greater dementia awareness in the workplace, with employers engaging in risk reduction and education, along with dementia-literate working environments that cater to the extra demands faced by family carers.

Our schools could educate children on the issues that people living with dementia may face and how to support them – an important step to removing stigma and creating a wider dementia-inclusive community.

We also need to establish the right health and care pathways to ensure individuals and their families are supported from diagnosis until the final stages years later.

Through our partnership with Dementia UK we have just appointed Scotland’s first Admiral Nurses to help achieve that.

These are specialist dementia nurses who support families and work to ensure the needs of people with dementia are addressed in a co-ordinated way.

This helps to reduce contact time with GPs and social workers, and avoid unnecessary hospital admissions. These nurses will support people with dementia who live in our care homes and in the wider community, regardless of whether they are our customers.

Source The Scotsman

NHS in Scotland ‘needs former nurses to fill shift gaps’

Scotland’s biggest nursing agency has warned there are not enough qualified nurses in Scotland to fill rota gaps.

ScotNursing says it is only able to fill around 40% of available shifts, whereas in the past it was able to fill 90%.

The company is calling on former nurses to consider doing occasional shifts.

The Scottish government said it had taken measures to support nurses, and increase the numbers of nurses and midwives working in the NHS.

ScotNursing chief executive Ann Rushforth said the problem was down to the lack of school leavers joining the profession.

She said: “It takes four years to train a nurse. Sadly school leavers these days don’t seem to want to be nurses. They want to be veterinary nurses and supermodels.”

Mrs Rushforth urged nurses who are still registered but may have taken a break to have a family or to work in a care home to consider updating their clinical skills.

‘Severe shortage’

“People can make a significant difference by doing just one shift a month,” she said.

“There are hundreds of vacancies we can’t fill but this work still has to be done by someone. People may not realise they’re not getting the support they should have.”

During the general election campaign, both the Scottish Labour Party and the Scottish Conservatives promised to employ an extra 1,000 nurses in Scotland. However, Mrs Rushforth said the problem is a severe shortage of qualified staff.

“Nurses are not like instant coffee. You can’t just make them. In particular, nurses willing to do occasional shifts have become as rare as pandas.”

ScotNursing is in discussion with further education establishments about offering easy routes for nurses to update their skills.

Nurses must work a minimum number of hours per year and have completed appropriate training in order to work in the NHS. ScotNursing said occasional shifts can help them achieve this.

In September last year there were 58,000 nurses and midwives employed in the NHS in Scotland, compared to 55,000 in 2005.

‘Under tremendous pressure’

Figures from the NHS statistics department, ISD, suggested an extra 429,000 people were seen as inpatients and outpatients over the same period.

This indicates there is only one extra nurse for every 143 attendances.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has warned that health boards are under “tremendous pressure” to fill vacancies, but that staff numbers are failing to keep pace with the increase in patient numbers.

Director of RCN Scotland Theresa Fyffe said: “There is no doubt that there simply aren’t enough nurses to fill the gaps.

“This is a result of growing patient demand, significant cuts to the number of nursing students recruited in 2011/12 and 2012/13 and high rates of retirement from the nursing workforce.

“And the withdrawal of return-to-practice programmes over the years makes it difficult for nurses to come back to the workforce. However, where these programmes are still available they are one way of filling these gaps.

“Ultimately, though, what we need is for health boards to robustly apply the nursing and midwifery workforce and workload planning tools. This is the only way in which we will get the right number of nurses with the right skills working in the right places.”

‘High quality care’

The Scottish government said it was committed to giving nurses the support they need to meet “the increasing demands on the health service”.

Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “We have increased the number of nurses and midwives working within the NHS in Scotland by 2,300 during this government, to a new record high level of more than 43,000 WTE qualified nurses and midwives.

“We have recently announced £450,000 funding for a return-to-practice scheme over the next three years, at the same time as a 3% increase in pre-registration student intake which will encourage former nurses and midwives to return to the profession. This scheme will help bring around 75 former healthcare workers back into the profession each year.

“We are also continuing to invest in a range of work to ensure we recruit and retain the right number of staff, and equip them with the skills they need to provide high quality care.

“Through NHS Scotland’s ground breaking Nursing Workforce Planning Tools, which were developed in partnership with nurse unions, health boards are able to inform decisions about the number of nurses needed for particular clinical areas.”

Source BBC News

Royal College of Nursing says Scottish elderly care standards ‘not being met’

An analysis of inspections of hospitals which are caring for the elderly has suggested the current inspection regime has not driven up standards.

Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) began inspecting hospitals in 2012.

It was part of a new programme of inspections designed to encourage improvement and share good practice.

But the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said its review of 35 inspections suggested there had been a failure to improve the quality of elderly care.

In response, HIS said its own review of the care of older people in acute hospitals, which was produced last November, found that “we are seeing improvements being made across Scotland”.

‘Dignity and respect’

Its chief executive, Angiolina Foster, said: “The report identified a number of areas of good practice including an increased awareness by staff of the issues facing older people in NHS Scotland hospitals and patients being consistently treated with dignity and respect.

“However, we also identified areas for improvement including the flow of patients in acute hospitals and the practice of boarding – when patients are moved from one ward to another to meet the needs of the service and not because of the patient’s clinical needs.”

However, the RCN said it did not believe there was any evidence of change.

Its report stated: “It is clear from the inspection reports that fundamental standards of care are not being met for older people in many hospitals.”

It said that inspectors had “often found examples of warm, caring and meaningful interactions between staff and patients” in hospitals across the country.

But its analysis showed that 31 out of 35 inspections found hospitals did not appropriately screen and assess older people for cognitive impairment while 27 hospitals needed to improve nutritional screening of older people.

Meanwhile, 19 out of 35 inspections identified improvements were needed in the assessment of pressure ulcers and 18 out of 35 found hospitals could do better in the way they implemented adults with incapacity legislation.
Glasgow Royal Infirmary, where an inspection indicated 17 areas of improvement in 2012

The report said that inspections “frequently identified issues around patient flow”, including delayed discharge and boarding – where shortages of beds can mean a patient is cared for in a ward that is not best-suited to their needs.

RCN Scotland director Theresa Fyffe said: “Our analysis also showed that NHS boards do not seem to be learning lessons from each other or even between hospitals within the same board.

“A poor inspection report in one hospital may be followed a few months later by a poor inspection report in another hospital in the same board area, with the same issues revealed. This is clearly not good for our older people.”

The RCN report, called Frontline First, found that while the majority of patients say they are happy with the quality of care, inspectors identified serious failings.

Almost all inspections found that hospitals did not appropriately screen and assess older people to identify serious conditions such as dementia, and most had poor care plans and nutrition programmes.

Areas for improvement

The inspection regime’s lack of effectiveness is illustrated by a series of inspections within an area managed by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

In May 2012, an inspection of Glasgow Royal Infirmary identified 17 areas where care needed to be improved. More than a year later, an inspection of Gartnavel hospital in October 2013 found 15 similar areas for improvement.

Four months later, in February 2014, the Southern General was told it needed to improve care in 16 areas.

Two months after that, standards within the board appeared to be worse than ever. In April, the Victoria Infirmary was given a list of 19 areas for improvement.

Rosslyn Crocket, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s director of nursing, said: “I recognise that in some areas the improvement methods we were putting in place were not consistently delivering the results we expect for our patients.

“That’s why we have introduced a new initiative that will delegate more responsibility and control to the most senior nurses on the wards in order to spread learning in a more sustainable and consistent way.”

‘Action under way’

The RCN is calling for long-term funding for national improvement programmes. It has also called on the Scottish government to support health boards to increase capacity and drive improvements.

Responding to the RCN report, Scottish Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “We’re committed to driving up standards in the care of older people in hospitals, which is exactly why this government introduced these inspections.

“These inspections are already reviewed regularly by Healthcare Improvement Scotland, whose most recent review already identified the points raised by the RCN and action is under way to address them.

“Through the inspection process HIS also found that ‘on average, 99% of patients said the quality of care they received was good.’

“We’ve also provided an extra £2.5m to HIS to continue their improvement work across the NHS, which will also impact positively on improvements to the care older people receive.”

Ms Robison said she had asked the chairs of NHS boards to “proactively look at their individual services, including for older people, and report back to the Chief Nursing Officer who is overseeing this work”.

But Scottish Labour health spokeswoman Jenny Marra said: “The SNP government can’t wait until this amber warning turns to red to act. We have known for many years that our population is ageing and this is more challenging to our NHS.”

And the Liberal Democrat health spokesman Jim Hume claimed the report showed that “the complacency of SNP ministers on the future of Scotland’s NHS is setting Scotland’s hospitals up to fail older patients”.

Source BBC News

A&E waiting time targets missed in January, NHS figures show

Scotland’s A&E departments treated 87% of people within the Scottish government’s target of four hours in January, NHS statistics show.

For the first time, weekly waiting times in Scottish A&E’s have also been published.

They cover major hospitals only and suggest 86% of people were treated in four hours between 16 and 22 February.

The Scottish government target is 95%. This winter has been one of the worst for Scottish A&E’s in recent years.

Only the weekly figures can be compared with those produced in England, where 88% of people were seen in four hours during the same week of 16 to 22 February.

‘Particular strain’

Health Secretary Shona Robison said more needed to be done to tackle the issues facing the NHS, and said the Scottish government was committed to improving performance throughout the whole system.

She said: “While weekly figures show 10 out of 14 health boards are treating around nine out of 10 A&E patients within four hours we are seeing particular strain on hospitals in the west, with NHS Ayrshire & Arran and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde falling below the national average for both weekly and monthly figures.

“To tackle this we are targeting £5m from our £31.5m performance fund to drive forward improvement across NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, to relieve pressure at the front door of the hospital.

“This is in addition to the support team put into the Royal Alexandra Hospital, which is now using its learning across the health board.”

In January, the Scottish government announced £100m to help health boards and local authorities tackle bed blocking which it is hoped would help people move out of A&E and through the system.

Ms Robison added: “I am determined to work with all health boards across the country to improve performance and ensure waits are brought down for patients. Our targets are the most challenging in the UK but it means we need to work even harder to meet them.”

‘Eye off the ball’

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesman Jim Hume said the government should make clear how they plan to tackle the problems in the NHS.

He said: “These figures show SNP ministers have taken their eye off the ball, with far too many people not being seen within the target treatment time.

“The crisis facing A&E units couldn’t be more apparent – now NHS staff and patients need to know what the SNP is going to do to fix it.”

The Scottish Conservatives have called for the establishing of recovery centres, where police and ambulance staff could refer those heavily under the influence of alcohol, which they said would reduce the demands on A&E.

They said the plan would not mean that people with injuries or in genuine need, who happened to also be drunk, would be diverted away from A&E.

Scottish Conservative health spokesman Jackson Carlaw said: “Recovery centres are up-and-running in America and Australia.

“However, in Scotland we have not seen any real national effort to deal with this increasing problem which now regularly overwhelms casualty [departments].

“When they’re already at breaking point, experienced and specialist A&E doctors and nurses shouldn’t be expected to simply clean up after someone who has drunk 10 pints on Saturday night and can’t find their way home.”

Sourced from the BBC Online

Opposition parties claim Scots A&E units ‘in crisis’

Opposition parties have said emergency care in Scotland is “in crisis” after ministers intervened at a hospital that failed to meet waiting times targets.

A support team is being sent to the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley where, last month, 84% of patients were treated within a four-hour timeframe. The national target is 95%.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said intervening was a “responsible move”.

Labour and the Liberal Democrats have claimed the problem is widespread.

Jenny Marra, Scottish Labour’s health and wellbeing spokeswoman, said the Scottish government’s decision to step in at the Royal Alexandra “confirms what Scottish Labour have been saying for weeks – we have an A&E crisis in Scotland”.

‘Terrible stories’

She said: “What they can’t do is treat this as a localised problem to Paisley. This is a problem up and down the country.

“I was in Fife yesterday and it’s a problem there. They really need to be looking at this right across Scotland.

“We have heard terrible stories from Glasgow, from Fife, from Paisley, from up north. The Scottish government needs to realise this is a problem across Scotland.”

Ms Marra called for weekly reporting of accident and emergency (A&E) statistics.

The last set of A&E figures were for the period from October to December. From February the figures will be published monthly.

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Jim Hume also said there was a crisis in A&E departments across Scotland.

“The SNP government took its eye off the ball and now it is attempting to whitewash the growing crisis in Scotland’s A&E units,” he said.

“The reality is that the crisis in emergency care is worsening – not improving. Why were the public only told about the extent of the situation facing Royal Alexandra Hospital once the Scottish government sent in an emergency support team?

“People will understandably be concerned that other hospitals could be on the brink of a similar situation.”

Opposition comment came after Ms Sturgeon defended the move to send support to the Paisley hospital.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme, the first minister said: “Why we’ve taken the action of sending a support team into the Royal Alexandra Hospital is because we are concerned we’re not seeing the degree of recovery in that hospital that we are seeing at other hospitals and that we would be expecting.
‘Better practices’

“It’s a responsible move, we will have unscheduled care managers from the Scottish government in there to help the management on the ground look at different ways of speeding up the flow of patients through A&E, and doing what is most important of all – making sure patients get the quick access to treatment that they deserve.”

Ms Sturgeon said that accident and emergency (A&E) statistics published weeks ago, showed that NHS Tayside’s performance for treating patients within the four-hour timeframe was at 98%.

She added: “So, what we need to do is make sure that the better working practices, the way in which patients are being taken through A&E that are working well in some hospitals are being applied in all hospitals.

“And that’s one of the things that the support team that we’ve sent to the Royal Alexandra, will be helping the local management to achieve.”

In January, it emerged that one patient at the Royal Alexandra had waited 20 hours for a bed.

The failure to meet the national waiting times target prompted an apology from the head of NHS Scotland on Tuesday.

Chief executive Paul Gray said it had been a “challenging winter” for A&E departments across Scotland.

He said that the support team being sent to the Royal Alexandra Hospital from next week would “help identify issues where they exist and prioritise actions that can be taken to improve A&E performance”.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (GGC), which runs the Royal Alexandra, said it hoped the support team would help “improve on our current challenged performance”.

Article was sourced from BBC

Fall in Scots death toll from heart disease and strokes

The number of people dying from heart disease fell by more than 3,000 since 2004, while survival rates for those suffering their first heart attack increased by 6.7 per cent.

Scottish Government figures released yesterday found that the overall mortality rate for heart disease has fallen 43 per cent from 2004 to 2013 with stroke deaths down by 41 per cent over the same period.

They confirmed a long-term trend for the decline in mortality rates of coronary heart disease (CHD), heart failure and heart attacks.

The increasing survival rate came as incidences of coronary heart disease declined by four per cent, while cases of angina fell by 44 per cent.

Despite this, heart attacks, chest pains and heart failure all increased over the course of the decade.

The figures also found that incidences of cerebrovascular disease, which causes strokes, dropped by 30 per cent between 2004 and 2013.

Annual stroke deaths fell by 1,000 to 2,483 over this period.

Alongside cancer, heart disease and strokes are Scotland’s “big three” killers.

Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said that work needs to continue in the fight against heart disease and stroke.
He added: “It is encouraging that fewer people in Scotland are dying from coronary heart disease and that the survival rate for heart attack is improving.

“But there can be no room for complacency.

“CHD is still Scotland’s single biggest killer and the death rate in Scotland is higher than the rest of the UK.”

The figures also revealed that the gap in death rates between the worst and best off areas in Scotland for coronary heart disease has narrowed by 33 per cent over 10 years.

Public Health Minister Maureen Watt said: “It’s tremendous news that fewer people are developing heart disease or suffering strokes and that fewer people are dying.

“I’m also encouraged to see that health inequalities are reducing in this area with the gap in mortality rates between the most deprived and least deprived communities falling over time.”

She added: “These figures are a genuine success story for Scotland’s health service.

“But the real secret to further decreases in heart disease and stroke lies in people’s lifestyles.

“Taking regular exercise, stopping smoking and cutting down on alcohol are simple steps that everyone can take to reduce the risk of suffering heart disease or stroke.”

Figures published last year found that the cost of prescribing drugs for heart disease fell from £231million in 2004 to £111million in 2012.

Source The Express

Scotland leads groundbreaking dementia research

HUNDREDS of people in Scotland are to play a major role in a groundbreaking international project which aims to stop the onset of dementia.
Experts at Edinburgh University are leading a 64 million Euro study which it is hoped will transform the way the NHS treats Alzheimer’s disease.
The research will investigate evidence that the disease starts in the brain decades before symptoms such as confusion and memory loss appear.
It will also treat those who appear to be at risk of dementia with drugs to help identify therapies which work to prevent these problems.
Professor Craig Ritchie, an expert in the psychiatry of ageing at Edinburgh University, said there is emerging evidence that people who suffer from dementia have had signs of disease in their brain for 30 or 40 years.
He compared the illness to a heart attack which results from cholesterol deposits – known as plaques – slowly building in the blood vessels.
Professor Ritchie said: “You do not just have a heart attack, you have 30 to 40 years of build up of plaque in your arteries.
“There is exactly the same paradigm with Alzheimer’s – so brain health in mature life is one of the things we are interested in understanding in more detail.”
Alzheimer’s patients have been found to have abnormal amounts of protein – known as amyloid plaques – and fibres – known as tau tangles -along with a chemical called acetylcholine in the brain.
Those who volunteer for the new study, which is aiming to recruit 6000 people over the age of 60 across Europe, will have images taken of their brain. They will also need to give blood samples for very detailed testing and undertake cognitive tests which assess skills such as their memory, planning, judgement and language use.
Everyone will be tracked for at least five years and those thought to be at highest risk of developing dementia will be put into drug trials. Professor Ritchie said: “If some of the drugs are not proving to be effective people will be taken off them and put on those which are seen to be effective.”
It is hoped giving treatment before dementia sets in, will produce better results. Professor Ritchie said: “By the time you get dementia you are at end stage brain failure. There is so much going on in the brain… that giving a silver bullet will have very little impact. It is like asking someone to stop smoking when they have had four heart attacks. It is not going to make a great deal of difference.”
The study, called Epad, has been launched in Paris this week and will ultimately be boosted by similar research programmes in Canada, the United States and Australia.
With a number of experts in the field coming together to work in Scotland, Professor Ritchie said: “Scotland is becoming a leading force in dementia prevention. In the next 10 to 15 years we are going to be recognised as the vanguard or forefront of this global effort.”
Those recruited to the study in Scotland are expected to come from existing research programmes including Generation Scotland and the UK Biobank which have collected samples and health information from hundreds of thousands of people to aid medical research.
Henry Simmons, chief executive of Alzheimer Scotland, said: “We are delighted to see Scotland taking a lead on this Europe-wide approach to Alzheimer’s disease research. We also welcome the recent appointment of Professor Craig Ritchie to the Chair of Old Age Psychiatry in Edinburgh as a significant progression in the capacity for Scotland to deliver world-leading research in dementia.”
Source The Herald

Study finds link between dementia and living in north

THE risk of developing dementia depends on how far north a person lives, new research has found.
Researchers say rates of the disease could be halved if related environmental factors – such as a lack of sunlight – which trigger the increased risk can be identified.
A study carried out by scientists at the University of Edinburgh focused on mapping the incidence of the disease in twins in Sweden.
It revealed those living in the north were two to three times more likely to develop dementia compared with those in the south, when factors such as age, gender and genes were taken into account.
Another study used data ­gathered from a nationwide survey of ­children born in 1921 to examine the risk of developing dementia.
This research found that while there was no change linked to where people lived as children, by the time men and women reached middle-age there was once again a higher risk for those who lived in areas further north, such as Grampian, compared to regions in the south, such as the Borders.
Tom Russ, clinical lecturer in old age psychiatry at Edinburgh University’s Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Research Centre, said a lack of vitamin D could be one possible reason for the link.
“The north-south divide does make you think about latitude and it may be it is something to do with sunlight exposure and vitamin D – that is a possibility and it has certainly been linked to healthy brain function and dementia,” he said, adding: “The next step is to pin down what these factors could be.
“Given that two to threefold variation, it is not going to be one factor – but if you could identify what these factors are and optimise them in the whole population, you could potentially halve dementia rates.”
Russ said the Swedish study of twins allowed any genetic factors which might explain the north-south divide to be “taken out of the picture”.
He added: “In the Scottish study, everybody was born in 1921, so they will have experienced ­different things all at the same time – for example, they will all have been the same age when the NHS was introduced. By middle age – around 50 or 60 years old – there was a big ­variation across Scotland [in dementia rates] and it was a ­similar pattern: higher in the north and lower in the south.”
Lindsay Kinnaird, research manager at Alzheimer Scotland, said: “We’re delighted that Scotland is leading the way in helping us to understand what causes this illness.
“If we are able to identify ­environmental risk factors, then we have the opportunity to make adaptations to lifestyle that can minimise their impact.”
Source The Herald

SNP slammed as 1,200 hospital beds go in two years

ALMOST 1,200 hospital beds have disappeared from wards around Scotland in just two years, official figures have shown.

The drop comes despite the number of patients in acute specialities and A&E units being at a ten-year high.

The SNP government is now facing accusations that it has taken its “eye off the ball” on frontline services such as the NHS as it focused on the independence campaign.

Health campaigners and professionals have recently issued stark warnings over the state of Scotland’s hospitals, amid concerns of staff and capacity shortages.

Bed shortages are already being blamed for operations being cancelled.

The latest national picture has emerged in figures obtained by the Scottish Liberal Democrats.

“The SNP in government spent so long campaigning for independence that they took their eye off the ball,” Lib Dem health spokesman Jim Hume said. “These figures show in black and white that as a result, over 1,000 beds have been lost from Scotland’s hospitals in the space of just two years.

“It’s little wonder that more patients are being treated in the wrong department, waiting times aren’t being met and patients are being kept in hospital despite being clinically ready to leave.”

The official health services figures released by the Lib Dems show a reduction of 1,174 beds in Scottish hospitals between 2011-12 and 2013-14.

The biggest fall was in NHS Glasgow and Clyde where 398 beds have gone, and NHS Ayrshire and Arran which reduced by 195.

Recent years have seen a shift towards treating more people at home where this is appropriate. But the head of one NHS board recently voiced “grave concerns” about the number of patients still being looked after in hospitals who are well enough to leave – but can’t because they need care set up in the community.

Allan Burns, chairman of NHS Fife, said “bed blocking” is at a three-year high and costing NHS Fife £3.6 million a year.

Mr Hume added: “We were promised that integrating health and social care would take pressure off hospitals. But the jumbled approach of cutting beds without proper community care in place has resulted in patients bearing the brunt of SNP mismanagement.”

It emerged earlier this month that a lack of beds was among the factors in the cancellation of almost 3,000 elective surgeries in Tayside in 2013, along with staff shortages, equipment failure and administrative errors.

The Scottish Government insists that the number of acute beds – where patients are treated for immediate conditions such as severe injury or illness or when they are recovering from surgery – has remained “broadly static” in the past two years.

This means that the bulk of the beds lost have been used for patients with chronic or long term conditions.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman added: “A recent Scottish Government survey also showed that the number of intermediate care beds was currently around 500, with 200 more being created before the end of March.

“The creation of more intermediate care is an example of how our recent £10m investment in tackling delayed discharge, along with £18m for Unscheduled Care and winter preparations, will be used and further shows how the Scottish Government is supporting our health and social care in shifting more services into community settings.”

A report by public spending watchdog Audit Scotland earlier this year warned that the NHS “faces significant pressures” managing finances, meeting targets and making changes to services.

Labour health spokeswoman Jenny Marra said: “When Nicola Sturgeon was in opposition she promised to increase the number of available hospital beds in Scotland. Instead under the SNP our hospital beds are disappearing faster than almost anywhere else in the western world. More than 6,000 beds have been withdrawn from Scottish hospitals over the last ten years.”

BMA Scotland chairman Dr Peter Bennie said last week that there was “huge reliance” on the goodwill of staff across Scotland to keep things going. But he warned: “This is not a sustainable solution.”

Earlier this month, nursing leaders questioned the “positive picture” painted by NHS Scotland in its annual report.

Source The Scotsman