Last week I attended the first briefing session of the new Parliament by NHS Lothian.
The quarterly briefings are an opportunity for NHS Lothian to update MSPs on their work and for MSPs to raise issues of particular concern to their constituents
Two issues that were high on the agenda this time around were the current situation at Elsie Inglis Nursing Home and ongoing delays to the new Sick Kids Hospital.
The two recent deaths at Elsie Inglis Nursing Home were tragic events and serious question have been raised over the standard of care. The home has now been shut down as it could not make urgent and immediate improvements ahead of a Social Care and Social Work Improvement Scotland deadline.
It is alarming that standards of care have dropped so dramatically – as recently as October last year the home received a positive inspection report.
The situation at Elsie Inglis is part of a worrying time in the care sector with Southern Cross, which operates 98 care homes in Scotland, recently announcing its precarious financial position. The organisation has reduced the amount it pays to landlords by a third to help alleviate the situation and has announced plans to cut 3,000 jobs across the UK.
People deserve peace of mind that when their loved ones are resident in any nursing home, they can trust they will get the high quality care they expect and deserve. That’s why I am supporting Jackie Baillie MSP’s calls for the Scottish Government to hold urgent discussions on the current state of care homes in Scotland.
The second item on the agenda concerned the ongoing delay to the new Sick Kids hospital and Department of Clinical Neuroscience which is now two years overdue.
In the last session in Parliament I lobbied the Health Minister Nicola Sturgeon for clarification on what support the Scottish Government were offering to progress the plans.
Before the election I predicted that the SNP Scottish Government wanted it both ways – criticising funding through private sector partnerships, but requiring investment for Edinburgh’s Sick Kids to be channeled through the Scottish Futures Trust. Meanwhile the Southern General in Glasgow is funded through conventional upfront government funding.
The delays that this caused has forced NHS Lothian to reorganise their plans and, as yet, they have no information on when work will begin and are still waiting for clarification from Nicola Sturgeon MSP what financial support will be made available by the Scottish Government. Unfortunately we are none the wiser after Thursday’s debate in the Scottish Parliament where new Health Minister Michael Matheson failed to give comitments on timescales to either Malcolm Chisholm MSP or Margo MacDonald MSP. I have now lodged further Parliamentary Questions to try and get some answers.