A&E Waiting Times Underline Need for Improved Support for NHS

Highlighting the latest figures on A&E waiting times, MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife Claire Baker has called on the Scottish Government to take immediate steps to address the pressure on services across NHS Fife and NHS Forth Valley.

The statistics are the worst weekly and monthly A&E figures for Scotland on record, with only 69.6% of attendances at A&E services across the country seen and admitted, transferred or discharged within 4 hours. 1,948 patients across Scotland waited for more than 8 hours. The monthly figures for September show performance against the four-hour target at a record low of 76.1%.

The NHS Fife rate of compliance with the 4 hour standard for week ending 24th October was 69.6%. The rate of compliance with the 4 hour standard for NHS Forth Valley for week ending 24th October was the worst in the country, at only 51.8%.

Claire Baker has previously urged the Scottish Government to do more to address the pressures faced by NHS services including A&E, and has called for additional support to be provided to health boards.

Claire Baker said:

“The latest figures on A&E waiting times show that the Scottish Government has failed to address the pressures on vital services, and they need to take urgent action.

“Our NHS staff continue to work to deliver healthcare across Mid Scotland and Fife but A&E performance is at its lowest ebb. Frontline staff are doing all they can but they need additional support to prevent this situation from further deteriorating.

“The announcement of additional funding of £10m to redeploy staff and extend hours is a positive step but must be part of broader support plans. The Scottish Government needs to quickly get a grip of the scale of this challenge.”

Cervical Screening Rates Fall in NHS Fife

Following the publication of the annual cervical screening statistics for Scotland, Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Claire Baker is urging women across Fife to ensure they are up to date with their screening appointments.

The figures from Public Health Scotland show that across Scotland, the uptake rate for cervical screening in females aged 25-64 was 69.3%, down from 71.2% in 2020, while in Fife uptake fell from 72.2% to 70.3%. Uptake in the NHS Fife area for women aged 25-49 was 68.4%

Those from the most deprived areas are less likely to take part in screening, with uptake of 63% compared with 74% in the least deprived areas. Younger women are also less likely to participate, with uptake among 25-29 year olds at 55.4%.

Claire Baker has also written to NHS Fife seeking clarification around arrangements for routine screening appointments following the introduction of HPV screening in March 2020.

Claire Baker, MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, said:

“While it may not be surprising that screening attendance has fallen, these figures should be a wake-up call that  more needs to be done to encourage and increase uptake.

“Cervical screening attendance in Fife is 70.3%, meaning one in four women don’t attend when invited. While a test may involve some discomfort, it can save your life.  Smear tests can prevent cervical cancer and I would encourage all women to make sure they are up to date with their smear tests.

“The impact of covid has only increased the gap in attendance between the most and least deprived groups and we cannot let this inequality continue. The lower rates of uptake among younger women is also a concern and must be addressed.

“I have been pushing the Scottish Government on the use of self-sampling and we need to see increased use of innovative solutions like this to increase participation, alongside clear information on when people will be called and why so they can make informed decisions on their healthcare.“

Regarding her letter to NHS Fife, Claire Baker added:

Following the introduction of HPV screening, routine screening has been extended to every five years for 25-64 year olds, but this should only apply to women only once they have been screened using the hr-HPV primary screen and received a negative result.

“I have been contacted by constituents who have been advised they will not be called for five years due to the introduction of HPV screening, despite their last appointment being prior to its introduction, so have written to NHS Fife seeking clarification on this.”

NHS Fife Pressures Must Be Addressed

MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife Claire Baker has called on the Scottish Government to act to alleviate pressures on NHS Fife services ahead of the onset of winter.

Earlier this month NHS Fife postponed all non-urgent surgery and some outpatient appointments, saying it was facing pressure “unlike anything we have experienced during our response to the pandemic”. This week they have referred to “significant ongoing challenges” and are looking at other services which can be stepped back to ensure safe staffing is in place.

During Portfolio Questions to the Health Secretary, Claire Baker highlighted the pressures facing the NHS in Fife and urged the Scottish Government to do more to ensure patients are not faced with further delays or reductions in services over the winter. She called for assurances that the situation in Fife will not deteriorate further, and for additional support to be provided to health boards.

MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife Claire Baker said:

“NHS Fife has postponed all non-urgent surgery and some outpatient appointments already but is looking at further reducing services in order to cope. A&E performance in Fife is its lowest on record and among the worst in Scotland. Frontline staff are doing all they can but hospitals are already seeing more people turn up, for both covid and non-covid related conditions, than they would at the height of winter.

“Many patients having their surgery or appointments postponed have already been waiting a long time to be treated, and are understandably anxious about any further delay. What they need is reassurance that additional support for our NHS will be provided to ensure this situation isn’t just going to get worse through the winter.

“With the medical backlog caused by the pandemic ever increasing, we cannot see further delays to patient care. The Scottish Government needs to step up and address this urgently, and support our NHS staff to continue delivering across all areas of healthcare.”

Call For Action on CAMHS Crisis

Scottish Labour MSP Claire Baker has called on the Scottish Government to do more for young people in need of support, following the news that Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services waiting lists have hit their highest point on record. New figures show that 352 young people in Fife are waiting for treatment.

The statistics for the end of July 2021 show that of the children and young people on the waiting list in Fife, 37.2% had been waiting more than 18 weeks, despite the Scottish Government’s target stating that 90% of patients should be seen within 18 weeks. During the quarter ending July 2021, a further 15.5% of young people referred to CAMHS in Fife had their referral rejected.

Claire Baker is calling for more to be done to reduce waiting times for CAMHS as well as to provide additional community support services.

Across Scotland CAMHS waiting lists hit a record high, with almost 12,000 young people waiting to be seen at the end of June. Almost 1,700 young people have waited more than a year.

Commenting, Scottish Labour MSP Claire Baker said:

These figures show that much more needs to be done to provide community support and services for young people. While staff are working hard to keep vital services going, too many young people in need of support are having to wait to be seen.

“Referral times are simply too long and must be reduced, but we also need to see more community support for mental health available in the short term. There are cases where young people are in need of support but struggle to get it due to lengthy referral times and this must be addressed.

“The risk the pandemic poses to children and young people’s mental health has been clear for a long time but the SNP Government has failed to invest in the services needed.  

“We urgently need a real plan to fix this growing crisis and make sure every young person referred to CAMHS gets the treatment and support they need. We also need to support local services delivering short-term solutions by ensuring they have the resources to increase capacity so demand can be met.”

Out of Hours Service Needs to Provide for All Fife Residents

Following the decision not to retain Out of Hours services in Glenrothes, I have called on NHS Fife to ensure all residents continue to be supported in accessing available services in the region. It is extremely disappointing that Glenrothes will not have an Out of Hours service within the town and I understand people’s anger at this decision. Assurances must be provided to Glenrothes residents on the provision of free taxis as soon as possible to ensure those without transport can access services elsewhere in Fife.

I do welcome the news that overnight services will be provided in Dunfermline and Kirkcaldy, and that new arrangements will be in place in St Andrews. Fife residents have undergone months of uncertainty and it has taken far too long to reach this decision. The NHS board must act quickly to put the new arrangements in place and raise awareness of the changes. What we cannot see is any further delay or confusion.

At the core of these changes is a shortage of GPs and the knock-on effects are being felt across NHS services. Urgent action needs to be taken by the Scottish Government to increase GP numbers so services across Fife and Scotland can improve.

A Right to Pulmonary Rehabilitation

This week I got the chance to meet people living with chest conditions like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) at the Scottish Parliament’s gym, where I got a “Pulmonary Rehab experience” with the help of Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland.

Rehab is proven to keep people well and help them stay out of hospital, but thousands of people struggle to access rehab programmes or have long waits to get on one. Figures for Fife indicate that of the 4,837 people with COPD who would benefit from Pulmonary rehabilitation only 501 (11%) are being referred.

Claire with Morag Allison, Hazel Crombie, Mostyn Tuckwell and Linda Gray in the Scottish Parliament gym

Pulmonary rehabilitation is life-changing for people with lung conditions like COPD.  Everyone who needs it deserves access to this.Pulmonary rehabilitation prolongs lives and saves the NHS money by reducing hospital admissions – it is precisely the kind of service we should be offering more of.

I am fully behind Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland’s campaign to make pulmonary rehab available to all who need it.  There should be a universal and equal right to pulmonary rehab across the country. 

Politicians can’t be silenced on GP Crisis

It has been clear for some time that Fife is in the middle of a GP crisis. We have seen surgeries struggle to recruit full-time doctors to replace those that have retired or moved on. As a result, many practices are having to close their lists to new patients and we have seen the closure of out-of-hours services in Glenrothes, Dunfermline and St Andrews.

That is why I have been trying to find the underlying cause of the crisis and find out just how bad it is, including raising the issue in Parliament and directly with the NHS. It is also the reason why I have spoken out as NHS Fife released a position statement on GP practices experiencing recruitment difficulties in Fife but marked the document as confidential.

I am clear that politicians cannot be silenced from speaking out. Despite knowing how many full lists there are, how many surgeries have vacancies of longer than a year, in one case 2 years, we are gagged from speaking out.

We have been told that one surgery is considered to be in a ‘high risk situation’ but I cannot name where. This is outrageous and damaging to relationships between the board, local politicians and patients.

As a public body, NHS Fife should be as open and transparent as possible. Hiding statistics and figures behind a ‘confidential’ clause goes against this and there must be an immediate rethink.

Following rumours of being side-lined after questioning the board, we have seen yet another high profile resignation with the Chair or the Health and Social Care Partnership leaving. As a result, senior members of NHS Fife are leaving at the rate of one every six months.

Fife has a right to know what is happening in their NHS and they have a right to know what action is being taken to address this growing GP crisis. Politicians must no longer be silenced.

You can read more here: Courier Website

Claire launches culpable homicide consultation

On average, 17 people in Scotland die each year as result of an ‘industrial incident’. It is simply unacceptable to have workers dying because of negligence or recklessness by their employers.

Far too many people in Scotland still do not return home to loved ones after going to work – this must change. That is why I have today lodged my proposal for a member’s bill on Culpable Homicide.

I would like to thank Scottish Hazards for their support and allowing me to launch my consultation at their conference in Glasgow this morning. I want to thank Thompsons Solicitors and Unite the Union for their continued support as well.

I especially want to thank Louise Taggart, whose brother Michael was killed at work in 2005 for joining me and telling her heart-breaking story.

Louise’s story shows the real human cost behind our failure to take the action needed. That is why I hope all political parties in the Scottish Parliament will join with myself and Louise to end the scandal of death and injury at work.

You can view my draft proposal and consultation on the Scottish Parliament website: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusin…/…/110169.aspx Continue reading

Baker urges action over cervical screening

I am once again backing Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust and their work to try and increase the rate of cervical screen in Fife and across Scotland.

The latest annual cervical screening statistics show that there has been a slight fall in Fife and Scotland in the number of cervical screenings. According to statistics attendance is lowest amongst those aged under 30, women living in areas of deprivation, or from black, Asian, and minority ethnic, communities.

This is despite the fact that cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women under 35 and is largely preventable through screening and HPB vaccination programmes. Therefore, any decrease in screening rates is disappointing and I would urge all women who are eligible to attend regular check-ups to take part in what can be a potentially life-saving test.

That is why increasing the rate of screening must be a priority. We need to ensure appointments are more accessible, we are targeting the groups that are less likely to take a smear test for a variety of reasons and we are looking at innovative solutions such as increasing access through sexual health services and the introduction of self-sampling.

NHS Fife once again misses 18-week CAMHS target

Latest figures from ISD Scotland show that NHS Fife is still failing to meet the 18-week standard set for tackling child and adolescent mental health.

Despite the standard being set at 90% of patients being seen within the 18-week period, only 70.2% were seen within that time in the past quarter. Whilst this is up from the 67.7% in the quarter previous, it is down on the 74.8% for the same time last year.

These figures must serve as a wakeup call for NHS Fife and the Scottish Government. I am regularly contacted by constituents concerned by their, or their child’s, long waiting times and we need to see action taken to ensure all patients are seen within 18 weeks.

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