NICOLA Sturgeon has been warned that doctors are “crying out for help” as she was urged to reverse £65m cuts to GP services.
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar told the First Minister that the health service is the “worst it has ever been”, following warnings from the British Medical Association’s Scottish GP committee.
Andrew Buist, chairman of the committee, has warned of the catastrophic consequences facing GPs due to primary care budget cuts – part of more than £600m the Scottish Government is cutting to meet inflation costs and public sector pay deals.
Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, Mr Sarwar said staff are facing “unbearable pressure” and Dr Buist believes 1,000 GPs are needed urgently.
Mr Sawrar said: “The Deputy First Minister called the cut of £65 million for GP practices, which already are short-staffed and under pressure, a ‘reprioritisation’.
“Let’s call it what it is -it’s a cut that’s having a devastating consequence for staff and for patients.
“At the same time, her Health Secretary tells people to go to their GP instead of A&E. Another case of the SNP telling NHS staff to do more with less.
“The SNP has been in charge of our NHS for 15 years, and there is a crisis in every part of it – in our GP practices, at our A&Es and in our hospitals.”
He told the First Minister responsibility lies with herself and her Health Secretary Humza Yousaf.
“Staff are crying out for help,” he said.
“Does the First Minister accept this is the worst it has even been and it is all happening on Nicola Sturgeon and Humza Yousaf’s watch?”
Ms Sturgeon said she accepts the BMA’s assessment of GP pressures – but said the Scottish Government aims to recruit 800 additional GPs over the next few years, with 277 taken on since 2017.
But budgetary pressures mean “hard decisions” – including on NHS financing – have to be made, she said.
Ms Sturgeon added: “Nothing I have said today or at any time takes away from the fact that management of the NHS is the responsibility of me and my Government.
“I absolutely accept that and take that responsibility seriously.
“Is the pressure on the NHS greater than it has been at any time in the history of the NHS? Yes, it is.
“The fact of the matter is though, that while management of the NHS is our responsibility, the amount we’re able to invest in the NHS is determined by funding decisions that are taken at Westminster.”
Ms Sturgeon has faced pressure to sack Mr Yousaf as NHS waiting times in emergency departments continue to rise, however she has maintained she has “absolute confidence” in him.