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Highland MSP on hospital waiting times: are the Government hiding cuts?


By Tom Ramage

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Edward Mountain, the Highland Conservative MSP, is not letting up on the vexed issue of hospital waiting times.

"It's vital that we tackle this," he said yesterday, after jousting in the chamber with George Adam, minister for parliamentary business, on whether Holyrood plans to proposed a parliamentary debate.

"Asking people to wait years for orthopaedic appointments is unacceptable.

Edward Mountain, MSP outside Raigmore Hospital. Picture: James Mackenzie.
Edward Mountain, MSP outside Raigmore Hospital. Picture: James Mackenzie.

"Knowing that NHS Highland has a projected overspend this year of £57m makes me concerned that they will cut operations – they shouldn’t.”

In the Parliament on Wednesday, Mr Mountain, MSP for Highlands and Islands, said that increased waiting times were ongoing in his constituency and with a stretched NHS Highlands budget it was expected to impact upon elective care for both outpatient and inpatient appointments.

Mr Mountain asked the Scottish Government whether it planned to propose a parliamentary debate on waiting times for elective care for both outpatient and inpatient appointments.

Mr Adam responded: "Currently there are no plans at this time and as Mr Mountain is aware any proposals for government business in Parliament are agreed by the Scottish Cabinet subject to consideration by the parliamentary bureau and in term approval by Parliament."

Mr Mountain replied: "As the minister will know, party business is limited to nine debates per parliamentary year so there’s very stiff competition. So, will the minister undertake to raise this specific issue with the Cabinet Secretary for Health, as despite the National Treatment Centre opening earlier this year, waiting times are increasing in the Highlands and constituents in the Highlands expect these matters to be debated in the Parliament."

Mr Adam’s replied: "I thank Mr Mountain for that question. This is the third time today Presiding Officer that I’ve been asked a question with my portfolio, I take that as a compliment of my ministerial abilities, but I would encourage the member to continue engaging with health colleagues and I am quite happy to pass on his concerns to my health colleagues as well."

Following the session Mr Mountain questioned whether the Government were hiding the cuts following the steady increase in patient waiting lists.


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