NHS Scotland faces 'incredibly difficult winter' warns Scottish Health Secretary

Health Secretary, Humza Yousaf speaking in the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood, Edinburgh.
Health Secretary, Humza Yousaf speaking in the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood, Edinburgh.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf says Scotland's NHS could see severe impact of coronavirus pandemic despite £300 million boost in funding

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Scotland’s NHS faces an “incredibly, incredibly difficult winter” despite the recent £300 million funding boost, the Health Secretary has said.

Humza Yousaf said that as well as the coronavirus pandemic, low immunity levels to flu could lead to a severe impact.

On Tuesday, he set out a £300 million package for health and social care which was described as the largest in the history of devolution.

Mr Yousaf answered questions from Holyrood’s Covid Recovery Committee on Thursday.

Scottish Labour MSP Alex Rowley raised concerns from trade unions that the money still did not go far enough and staff were under “immense pressure”.

He said: “There are times when they say, in their wards, the hospitals are not safe.

“That the nurse-patient ratio is way beyond what is acceptable.”

Mr Yousaf said he was in regular contact with trade unions.

He said: “We have the highest record level of staffing and the NHS ever under any government.

“We’ll continue to recruit, of course my statement made significant ambitions and recruitment, not just for nurses but also band twos to fours as well.

“But I have to be upfront with the member, and with the public.

“These measures will help to mitigate some of the challenges, but we’re still in for an incredibly, incredibly difficult winter.

“Clinicians tell me that their real concern is not just the Covid pressures – but we hope to make a significant dent into those as we’re controlling transmission – but the flu and other respiratory viruses because our immunity we suspect is quite low.

“Because last year of course the flu wasn’t circulating as much due to the lockdown and restrictive measures we were under.”