Monday 18th August 2014



The NHS is one of the Labour Party’s proudest creations. For decades it has provided people with security and care at the point of need.  Sadly, however, it would appear that all is not well with our beloved institution.

In the last year we have had staff speak out about the enormous pressures they are under, elderly patients being left on trolley’s in corridors and A&E waiting times being missed.

If this wasn’t enough, only last week, an investigation by the BBC found that hospitals across Scotland were operating above capacity. Indeed, according to the broadcaster the lack of beds in medical wards at Inverclyde Royal Hospital led to occupancy rates which medical professionals would deem to be unsafe.

 This has been reinforced by data I have obtained under freedom of information laws which shows that in August and September last year, the General Medicine wards at the IRH were operating at over 90% and the Palliative Care wards were operating at 100%.

To put this in some sort of perspective, Dr Neil Dewhurst – the former head of the Royal College of Physicians and one of Scotland’s senior doctors – has said that if the rate goes above 85% then the risk of harm to patients’ increases.

The Scottish Government – which is responsible for the NHS in Scotland – has disputed the BBC’s findings.  However, irrespective of what the government says, the data released to me shows that a number of wards at the IRH have operated above levels which Dr Dewhurst would deem to be safe.

The Cabinet Secretary for Health, Alex Neil, must address this serious problem which is impacting on staff and the most vulnerable patients. One wonders if the Scottish Government hadn’t been so focused on the Independence debate our NHS would be in better health.