First Minister snubs MSP’s request to meet with NHS Highland staff and patients following turbulent week at health board

Highlands and Islands MSP, Edward Mountain today requested that the First Minister visit NHS Highland to meet with doctors, nurses and patients who are feeling ‘let down.’

The First Minister made no promises that she would accompany Edward Mountain MSP and meet with NHS Highland staff and patients.

This comes after a tumultuous week at the health board, in which a third chief executive was appointed in 15 months, GMB Union claimed that bullying was still rife within the health board and the board’s deficit for this year increased to £13m.

During a session of First Minister’s Questions, Edward Mountain MSP asked: “in the last four years at NHS Highland we’ve seen: a botched service redesign, a radiology crisis, a bullying scandal, budgets that never balance, delays in the construction of the elective care centre, and now the appointment of a third chief executive officer in 15 months. On a daily basis I am contacted by frustrated medical staff telling me of their latest problems that they are facing. Will the First Minister take the time to come to the Highlands and meet with me and some of the doctors, nurses and patients that have been so let down?”

The First Minister replied: “The Health Secretary will be meeting NHS Highland in the Highlands on the 10th February, I look forward to visiting in the future myself. We will continue to work with NHS Boards to support them and the challenging job that they do to deliver services. And our Health Boards deliver excellent services to the vast majority of people in Scotland day in and day out. But again, anybody who thinks that our health service has been immune from Tory austerity in the last ten years really needs to think again, so perhaps Edward Mountain could also help us in putting more pressure on his Tory colleagues, who have told us that austerity is going to end and yet yesterday we see that the Chancellor is trying to force 5% cuts across Whitehall as well. So let’s stop the austerity, let’s stop the cuts coming from Westminster, and that would be one good thing that the Tories could do to help our National Health Service.”

Following the First Minister’s Questions, Edward Mountain MSP commented:

“The culture of bullying and the issue of NHS governance are problems which are the full responsibility of this Scottish Government. For the First Minister to claim any different is wildly inaccurate and inappropriate.

We’ve seen crisis after crisis in NHS Highland in the last few years and the least the First Minister could do is meet with doctors, nurses and patients who feel they have been let down.

The fact that the First Minister will not meet staff and patients with me shows her Government’s complete disregard for the health care challenges in the Highlands.”