Nicola Sturgeon 'hoarding' UK funding claims Miklinski
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Legislation introduced in 2012 was designed to ensure all patients would be seen within 12 weeks once a decision had been taken to proceed with medical treatment. But SNP ministers have found it increasingly difficult to meet the target, meaning thousands of patients are left waiting too long every month.
These figures are a damning verdict on a nationalist government distracted from the day job
Research by pro-UK campaign group Scotland in Union has revealed by the end of September 2020 – the most recent month for which figures are available – the pledge has been broken on 312,473 occasions since it was introduced.
In the quarter ending September 2020, there were 16,820 people waiting beyond the 12-week mark.
The research has also revealed 4,171 occasions where children had to wait longer than the legal requirement for paediatric surgery, as well as 9,619 cases involving gynaecological procedures for women.
Nearly all the data pre-dates Covid-19, and the pandemic actually reduced the number of hospital operations taking place, so cannot be blamed for the situation.
Scotland in Union said the ongoing failings demonstrate the SNP has presided over a long-term decline in the NHS, routinely failing thousands of patients while it obsesses about independence.
Scotland in Union chief executive Pamela Nash said: “These figures are unacceptable and a damning verdict on a nationalist government which has been distracted from the day job.
“Thousands of patients have been let down by the SNP while it obsesses about independence.
“It is clear that nationalist ministers ignored the need to build resilience into our NHS – they cannot blame the pandemic.
“This has been an ongoing problem for many years that they have failed to address. Scotland deserves better.
“The entire focus of government should now be on Covid recovery and rebuilding our NHS, putting patients ahead of constitutional arguments.”
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Ms Sturgeon’s Government will publish legislation setting out the timetable and question of a potential second Scottish independence referendum within the next few weeks.
The draft Bill – promised in the legislative programme the First Minister set out last year – is due to be published before the Scottish Parliament enters recess next month in the run-up to the Holyrood election.
Constitution Secretary Mike Russell said: “We said we would publish it before the Parliament rose and we will.
“It is a very simple Bill, there is nothing complicated about it.
“The key point is we have said we will put it in front of the people of Scotland at an election and they will have the decision on it.
“It is proceeding according to what we said, it is a simple short Bill and people will have the chance to then decide what they want to do – that is democracy.”
Last month, the SNP released an 11-point “roadmap” to an independence referendum – setting out that a ballot could take place if May’s Holyrood elections result in a pro-independence majority, even if Westminster refuses to grant a Section 30 order.
The party plans to force the UK Government into a legal challenge, if a Section 30 order is not granted.
Critics questioned the timing of the planned legislation given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Ms Nash said: “It is grossly insulting that the Scottish Government is devoting time to this during a public health pandemic that is claiming lives.
“The public has made it clear that a divisive second independence referendum should not be a priority.
“All focus should be on recovery and bringing communities together, not pulling us apart.”
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Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “It is so reckless that the SNP are ramping up plans for another divisive independence referendum at this time.
“The SNP’s threat of an illegal referendum is a distraction that risks our handling of the pandemic and will hold back our economic recovery.
“It is beyond belief that Mike Russell thinks that this should be the priority when lives and livelihoods are still threatened.”
A Scottish government spokesman said: “The NHS had been magnificent over the past year — responding to continuing pressures while still maintaining urgent, emergency and trauma care.
“What is important is that we maintain the progress we made before the pandemic and keep that work under way as we come out of it.”
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