Scottish Health Service Lurched From Crisis to Disaster- First With Susan Deacon 1999-2002-Then With Her Successor Malcolm Chisholm 2002-2005 – Remember Lessons From History



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13 January 13, 2002: The NHS can be saved, health minister Malcolm Chisholm tells Douglas Fraser, but it requires patience and honesty

The new year has started as the last one ended for new health minister Malcolm Chisholm – in crisis. The hepatitis C compensation row will be followed next week by two tricky announcements about long- term care of the elderly, in which it seems certain the Executive will admit to a (pounds) 23 million hole in its budget and not enough care home beds to deliver on its promises. And don’t bet on good statistics on bed-blocking, or delayed discharge as the minister prefers it to be known. But speaking to the Sunday Herald seven weeks after he was promoted to what looks like the least agreeable job in Scottish politics, Chisholm remains remarkably laid-back. It is the whole future of the National Health Service he wants to address, hitting back at claims he is shifting it over to private provision.




25 January 2002: Hospital trust ‘is unmanageable’; Staff grievances come to a head at North Glasgow in a devastating letter to the NHS board

Next week the Glasgow area will face the most far-reaching decisions about its health services since the formation of the NHS. The new shape of acute hospital services throughout the city, probably involving some closures, certainly involving some new buildings, will be determined at a day-long meeting on Tuesday of the Greater Glasgow NHS Board. However, the past three months have already ensured that life at Scotland’s biggest hospital trust – North Glasgow – will never be the same again. Hard on the heels of the crisis at the Beatson Cancer Centre, which led to its management being wrested from the hands of the trust, comes a devastating critique of the management style exercised by Maggie Boyle, the chief executive, and her senior colleagues.


tumblr_inline_mfwa4rvbL21rzrde5Malcolm Chisholm

26 January 2002: Squalor and filth patients must face on a daily basis in flagship infirmary.

An inspection team has discovered these shocking scenes of squalor at Scotland’s largest hospital. At Glasgow Royal Infirmary, bloody surgical scrubs are dumped in a cockroach-infested lift used to carry patients’ meals. Infectious waste lies mixed with other linen. Piles of waste in tunnels below the Victorian era hospital have created firetraps. Staff have to wash in a stinking bathroom with piles of filth on the floor and damaged brickwork that could harbour germs. The images have been released after the joint management and union team found filthy conditions throughout the infirmary, the mainstay of health bosses’ plans for a £550m shake-up of hospital services.




19 April 2002: No Mercy If NHS Spending Fails

Severe political embarrassment could be the eventual outcome of First Minister Jack McConnell’s spending spree on health. Yesterday he announced that every penny of Scotland’s bonus from the Budget would be spent on the National Health Service. That is a considerable hostage to fortune. The Government is promoting the claim that higher taxation is a moral imperative to fund the NHS. That notion is based on the presumption that all that is wrong with our health service is lack of money. Most informed observers believe that the underlying problem is the inflexible structure of this ailing State monopoly. It is neither callous nor socially irresponsible to suggest that part of Scotland’s Budget nest-egg should have been devoted to other vital services, such as education, transport and law enforcement.





22 June 2002: Chisholm Vow to Halve NHS Waiting Times Is Attacked as ‘Unrealistic’

Patients will wait no longer than six months for hospital treatment by 2005, Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm said yesterday. This would halve the present 12-month period which the NHS sets down as the longest a patient should wait between seeing a consultant and receiving treatment. The move follows last week’s announcement that ministers have bought the HCI private hospital in Clydebank, near Glasgow, which Mr Chisholm claims will remove 5,000 patients a year from the waiting list. But last night critics dismissed yesterday’s targets as unrealistic and warned the muchtrumpeted purchase of HCI alone could not solve Scotland’s health service woes.



18 July 2002: Unhappy history of executive who drank from the poisoned chalice; Problems of North Glasgow Hospitals Trust led to chief’s departure

IT was widely suspected to be a poisoned chalice, but, for Maggie Boyle, there was little reason to believe she could not handle the job. She had risen swiftly through the health service ranks from the job of auxiliary nurse, and in 1998, after 23 years in the NHS, was ready to take on her biggest challenge yet – the chief executive’s post at the new North Glasgow Acute Hospitals Trust. She was acting chief executive of West Glasgow Hospitals University Trust at the time, and her decision to take up the post added the Royal Infirmary, Stobhill Trusts, and the Glasgow Dental Hospital to what was already a heavy responsibility. The decision to amalgamate the hospitals under one trust and place Miss Boyle in charge also made her one of the most powerful women in the Scottish health service, on a huge six figure salary.


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22 August 2002: Health minister calls for end to spin as colleague bids hasty exit from key meeting on Glasgow hospital closures; Row as Chisholm cuts waiting lists

The executive yesterday tried to draw the sting from one of the opposition’s most potent issues by abolishing the highly controversial deferred hospital waiting lists. Malcolm Chisholm, health minister, claimed the move, which will result in a single type of waiting list for hospital treatment, was being done in the interests of openness and transparency. He made a candid statement about the need to end government spin, saying: “If problems are more obvious, it is better to face up to that. The public are sick fed-up with the traditional point of view, which is just to put the best gloss on things. “Let the truth out and deal with things as they actually exist.




28 August 2002: Minister’s U-Turn Adds 25,000 to the NHS Waiting List

The controversial deferred waiting list for NHS patients is to be scrapped amid claims that it was masking the number waiting for operations. Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm said all patients would now be put on a single list with a guarantee of treatment in 12 months, falling to six months by 2005. Critics had alleged that the deferred list, which contains patients whose planned hospital treatment has been postponed, kept thousands of off the main list, allowing the Scottish Executive to falsely claim improvements in waiting times. The move effectively adds 25,270 people from the deferred list to the main NHS waiting list in Scotland. Between 1993 and 2002 the main list fell from 84,521 to 71,965 – a drop of 12,556 – but during the same period the deferred list grew by 11,819 from 13,451 to 25,270.




27 September 2002: NHS board crisis team

Troubleshooters have been sent in to sort out the struggling NHS board in Argyll and Clyde. Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm wants them to solve “long-standing managerial problems”. No details of the difficulties were given but they are thought to involve clashes between senior staff and budget problems.



NHS nurses at London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony

8 October 2002: We Were So Naive to Be Taken in by New Labour’s Chicanery … All of Their Attempts to Save the NHS Have Proved Disastrous; A Retired GP and Former Labour Supporter on Why She Will Stand against the Party over Its Health Policy

When Labour won power in 1997, there was a tremendous sense of optimism among members of the medical profession in Scotland. We genuinely felt, on that glorious summer day five years ago when Tony Blair became Prime Minister, that things would change. After so many years of Tory rule, everyone agreed there was an overwhelming need for reform in the Health Service and that it was a time for universal celebration. Similarly, when devolution became a reality, its supporters – and I was among them – saw the Scottish parliament as a symbol of the country’s great potential. Now, in 2002, two years after I retired as a GP, I feel stupid – and deeply embarrassed – that we were all so naive and that my colleagues and I were effectively taken in by New Labour’s chicanery. I feel ashamed of my support for Labour and for devolution because all the attempts to save the NHS and turn around its fortunes have proved utterly disastrous. For many the ‘reorganisation’ of Glasgow’s hospital services has come to symbolise Labour’s intense arrogance.





12 November 2002: Hospitals remain in grip of strike action

The wildcat strikes that have taken hold at hospitals across Glasgow showed no sign of abating yesterday, leading to fears that operations could be cancelled by the end of the week. Nearly 400 administration staff at six sites controlled by North Glasgow University NHS Hospitals Trust failed to show up for work yesterday while the trust held an emergency meeting to plan for the weeks ahead. Health managers say they will be able to continue all routine and emergency work at the hospitals this week, but fear some elective operations will have to be cancelled after Friday if the dispute goes on. A spokeswoman said: “The staff who have walked out deal with patients records and these have already been prepared for clinics and all operations for the next week.




17 December 2002: NHS board cash crisis

Watchdogs have slammed a health board which faces a budget shortfall of pounds £30m. In a bombshell report, troubled Argyll and Clyde NHS Board was criticised for poor management which has created a “dire” financial crisis. The contents were so damning that four top-level health managers resigned before publication. Investigators hit out at the “dysfunctional and inappropriate management culture” for creating “financial instability” within the Board. Up to 100 angry NHS staff and patients packed an extraordinary board meeting to discuss the report’s findings at Dykebar Hospital in Paisley last night.






30 January 2003: Hepatitis Patients to Get £15m but Only If Westminster Agrees; Chisholm Admits Scottish Parliament Could Be Overruled

Patients in Scotland who contracted hepatitis C during NHS treatment could share a £15m compensation package, Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm said yesterday. But the move can only go ahead if the Westminster Government agrees the Scottish parliament has the power to implement the deal. Mr Chisholm yesterday unveiled his proposals for a long-awaited compensation scheme for around 570 patients who caught the deadly liver virus through blood transfusions or other treatment during the 1970s and 1980s. He said all patients who caught hepatitis C from infected blood should receive £20,000 and those who went on to develop life-threatening complications would be awarded an extra £25,000.




5 March 2003: NHS reform in Scotland hinges on nurse numbers: new White Paper will fail to improve care unless shortages are tackled, warns RCN

Proposals to reform the NHS in Scotland will fail to deliver their objective of improving patient care unless nurse shortages are tackled, the RCN has warned. A White Paper, Partnership for Care, was launched at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary last week by health minister Malcolm Chisholm. It promises nurses that the NHS in Scotland will become an `exemplary employer’ with a culture of lifelong learning. Staff will be entitled to receive continuing professional development, appraisals and personal development plans, the White Paper says. It also reveals plans to invest in a network of one-stop occupational health centres at NHS workplaces that will provide a fast-track rehabilitation service for staff.






17 June 2003: Executives face wrath of patients over A&E closure; GPs also express opposition in letter of no confidence

Executives of Argyll and Clyde NHS Board will face the wrath of GPs and their patients from north of the Clyde tonight at a public meeting over the planned closure of accident and emergency services at Vale of Leven Hospital. However, the public’s view was already clear last night after a grassroots meeting in Dumbarton, attended by about 300 people, at which the decision was roundly attacked amid calls for a steering committee to be set up to take the campaign against the closure further. Every GP practice in Dumbarton, Alexandria, and Helensburgh signed a letter published in The Herald today expressing no confidence in the NHS board, which lost four executives last year in a purge by the Scottish Executive.



Concerns Raised That Child Obesity Czar A Waste Of Resources.
Concerns Raised That Child Obesity Czar A Waste Of Resources.



30 August 2004: Hospital Staff Secretly Took Body Parts-Organs Removed from Corpses without Relatives Consent

Staff at three Scottish hospitals were paid £1 a time to remove glands from the brains of corpses without the permission of relatives. The payments were made by Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk, which used the pituitary glands to manufacture human growth hormones for treating children with growth disorders. Now organ retention campaigners have demanded an inquiry into the unauthorised procedure during post-mortem examinations at the Western Infirmary, the Royal Infirmary and Stobhill hospital in Glasgow. An inquiry in 2001 found that the hospitals, along with Gartnavel General, had a store of almost 4,500 organs – the second biggest in Britain behind Alder Hey in Liverpool. Organs were routinely removed from dead patients without relatives’ permission but the inquiry was never told that technicians at the hospitals received payment until the mid-1980s for removing the organs.


7 September 2004: Labour MSPs turn up the heat on Chisholm over hospital reforms

Pressure was mounting on Malcolm Chisholm, the health minister, from inside his own party last night to step in and halt plans to centralise hospital services across Scotland. He was given a torrid time by Labour MSPs at a private group meeting last week over moves by health boards to rationalise services and close key departments at local hospitals. Many MSPs, particularly those in the west of Scotland, have been inundated with letters of protest from constituents unhappy with their health board’s plans to reorganise services in their area. They have passed on these concerns to Mr Chisholm in an increasingly vocal manner, letting the minister know that the protests will get worse unless he is seen to intervene against the health boards.




9 September 2004: Time to act on NHS cutbacks; Call for ‘clear national strategy’ in health service

Jack McConnell suffered a backlash over the crisis in the health service last night after he refused to halt hospital cutbacks. Health boards across Scotland have had to cut frontline services as they struggle with mounting costs of wages and drugs. The closures and cuts come despite record levels of investment in the health service, with the annual budget climbing to £8billion. Health campaigners descended on Holyrood yesterday, demanding action to stop the decline of hospital services after the Scottish Executive rejected calls to get involved. They cheered from the public gallery as SNP deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon gave an impressive performance, forcing Mr McConnell on to the defensive over hospital closures to cheers from the public gallery and her party’s benches. Labour MSPs sat in silence.




10 September 2004: Health in crisis: Nervous MSPs demand freeze on hospital cuts; Chisholm called south to Labour meeting

Labour MSPs yesterday demanded a moratorium on hospital re- organisation across Scotland, in the face of mounting public anger at the plans. The call coincided with their party colleagues at Westminster summoning Malcolm Chisholm, the health minister, to attend what will be a stormy meeting of party colleagues at the House of Commons on Tuesday. Labour MPs want him to explain the risks the health plans pose to their re-election campaigns. At Holyrood, there is growing unrest among previously loyal supporters of the Scottish Executive. They backed a moratorium on change until an expert group on NHS re-organisation reports next March. Labour MSPs joined other parties on the health committee in warning that a national strategy must be in place before more major changes are approved.






10 September 2004: Labour Revolt over Health Service Cuts

The First Minister was facing open rebellion from his party last night as the crisis in the health service escalated. Jack McConnell and Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm came under huge pressure to prevent a string of hospital closures and cuts to frontline services. Labour MSPs on the Scottish parliament’s health committee joined opposition politicians in demanding an immediate halt to any cutbacks, at least until next March when a national review of NHS services is completed. Local health boards are being forced to slash vital services due to rising staff costs, despite the fact the Scottish Executive is pouring £8billion into the NHS.




22 September 2004: Chisholm Warned on Cuts

Pregnant women and babies could ‘die in ambulances in snowdrifts’ this winter because of hospital cutbacks, Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm has been warned. Mr Chisholm was attacked by MSPs of all parties, including Labour, yesterday as he appeared before Holyrood’s health committee. He faced a grilling over cutbacks which have provoked a national protest campaign. Jamie Stone, Lib Dem MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, warned that lives were being put at serious risk because Mr Chisholm was ‘wrecking’ the health service. He reacted angrily to Mr Chisholm’s assurances that no cuts would be allowed if they jeopardised ‘clinical safety’.



4 October 2004: Chisholm sweats it out as McConnell ponders reshuffle

Speculation was mounting last night over the future of Malcolm Chisholm, the embattled health minister, who could lose his job if Jack McConnell decides to carry out a reshuffle. It is believed that Mr Chisholm has been called to a meeting with the First Minister at 9am today to discuss his position, following a wave of protests across Scotland over hospital cuts. Tom McCabe, the deputy health minister, who has impressed in recent months with his efficient handling of the nationwide consultation on a smoking ban, is expected to meet the First Minister shortly afterwards. The meetings have fuelled speculation that Mr Chisholm will be asked to step aside, possibly into the post of social justice minister, with Mr McCabe taking over at health.


malcolmMalcolm Chisholm Steps Down from Health Service Job


15 April 2005: Labour catch a cold over health gaffe North-south divide on waiting times laid bare

Labour’s Scottish manifesto launch backfired yesterday by reminding voters that NHS waiting times can be twice as long in Scotland as in England. The gaffe allowed the SNP and Tories to make the health service the dominant issue of yesterday’s campaign, as they highlighted what has become Labour’s Achilles’ heel in Scotland in spite of record investment. After the launch, both parties pursued Jack McConnell over the differences at first minister’s questions, accusing him of letting down Scottish patients. Labour had intended to use the launch of the 118-page booklet to focus attention on the “harmony” between the party’s ministers in Holyrood and Westminster, a relationship they said would suffer if the Tories were elected on May 5.



Scottish Referendum Vote


Susan Deacon and her Resignation from the SPA – A Look Back at Her Political Career Exposes the Incompetence of Herself and the Labour Party at the Time They Held Power over Scotland




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3 December 2019: Police Watchdog chief Susan Deacon quits SPA claiming the system is “fundamentally flawed” 

In her resignation letter, the former Labour MSP for two terms and health minister said there was “little more” she could do to make the governance and accountability of policing work effectively.

Independent observers commented that her resignation and criticism of the way the national police force is scrutinised and held to account could be construed as a political  grenade thrown into Scottish politics just before the December 2019, General Election

The vice-chairman of the SPA, David Crichton, who will lead the SPA until a new appointment is made did not support the assertions of Prof Deacon. He stated:

“I and our team believe that the system of governance and accountability for policing in Scotland that was envisaged by the founding legislation is a sound one and works effectively. While we respect Susan Deacon’s right to resign from her post our collective focus will be on working together with our dedicated staff team to build on recent progress, deliver the actions and improvements already identified, and redouble the SPA’s focus on the issues of greatest importance to policing and the public.”

In Parliament, the three stooges, sensing blood, piled into the First Minister

Scottish Labour said the resignation “raises serious questions” about the SPA’s ability to oversee Police Scotland”.

The Scottish Conservatives described the SPA as “an organisation in crisis”.

Wee Willie Winkie Rennie said the police was “in crisis once again” and claimed there was a “toxic mix of chaos and complacency”.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon rejected opposition claims and said, “The police are not in crisis and I think it does a disservice to police officers around our country who are working so hard to keep us safe to say so. The SPA will continue with the improvements which were being made to governance and accountability”.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said there had been “significant improvement across many facets of the police service in Scotland.

Adding, “As Ms Deacon, herself acknowledges, our police service is in a much stronger place now than prior to her appointment”.


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She certainly knows just when to raise her profile gaining maximum right-wing media coverage but the words of the vice-chairman of the CPA  hold more potency. But a dig into her past is revealing since it exposes the incompetence of the Labour Party and herself at the time they held power over Scots.




11 January 2000: The NHS is coping with the crisis, says Health Minister Susan Deacon.

Really? That is not how things will look to the vast majority of the public.

The health service of the fifth largest economy on the planet should be able to deal with an outbreak of winter flu, no matter how virulent, without hospitals having to go on red alert, cancel hundreds of non-emergency operations or trawl around the country in search of intensive care beds.

This is not a picture of a service ‘coping’, but of one seemingly on the point of collapse.

The Minister’s insistence that hospitals and GPs are handling the enormous strain of the epidemic is at odds with the anecdotal evidence from medical staff around the country.





1 May 2000: It’s Desperately Leaking Susan – Deacon Accused of Spinning Stories

Health Minister Susan Deacon was last night accused of being the source behind a bid to destabilise the Scottish Cabinet.

Senior Labour figures believe she is behind briefings aimed at discrediting pretenders to Donald Dewar’s job.

Yesterday it emerged that the First Minister is likely to step down next year. He fuelled speculation by claiming he would not “cling to the office” if he was no longer wanted.

His departure looks certain to spark a bruising leadership battle and many believe Deacon is already staking her claim.

Other, more experienced, candidates include Wendy Alexander, Tom McCabe, Jack McConnell and favourite Henry McLeish.

Weekend reports claimed a “stop Henry McLeish” campaign was being run by senior members of the Cabinet.






17 May 2000: Heart hospital abandons surgeon search Heart surgeon crisis ‘will last a year

Glasgow Royal Infirmary has moved to end the crisis in Scotland’s heart transplant service by trying to train a home-grown team of surgeons.

The development comes after failing to recruit experts from elsewhere, a senior cardiologist revealed last night.

However, it will take up to a year to have a trained team in place.

The hospital is in discussions with three city surgeons with previous experience of performing heart transplants, in the aim of resuming the life-saving operations, suspended this month, at the start of next year.

The move to train its own team reflects the GRI’s continuing failure to recruit transplant surgeons from elsewhere in the UK or around the world.






6 July 2000: Lanarkshire mafia in the frame as Susan Deacon takes the rap for poor Health Service Delivery

She looked, said one Labour MSP yesterday, “completely hyper”.

Another added a particularly Glaswegian twist to descriptions of the health minister’s demeanour during that fractious meeting of the Scottish parliamentary Labour group – “She had a face like fizz”.

If Susan Deacon was annoyed by the dressing down delivered to ministers in front of her colleagues, it is not hard to see why.

There was some delight taken in her discomfort, but still, the impression exists that Deacon is yet another victim of the party’s Old Labour-style “Lanarkshire mafia”.

That is the loose term given to the group of male ministers which employs the tactics of the old party machine to stop those they regard as too radical or a threat.






30 August 2000: Hospital waiting lists rise by 5% – Health Minister Susan Deacon warns poorly-performing NHS Trusts they can expect a visit from hit squads

Hospital waiting lists have grown by 5% in the space of three months, according to figures published yesterday by the Scottish Executive.

They show that in-patient and day-case waiting lists totalled 86,549 at the end of June, 4215 up from the end of March.

The number of patients waiting more than 12 months grew by 81 to 553 at the end of June.

NHS Trusts which have contributed to the increase can expect a visit soon from the Executive Health Department’s hit squads, or performance management teams said Health Minister Susan Deacon.

But she pointed out that more patients were being treated more quickly, with eight out of 10 Scots now receiving treatment within three months of joining a waiting list, and hospitals across the country increasing their activity.






7 November 2000: Labour Party Rob NHS – Outcry as Money Is Transferred to Pay off Council House Debts

A massive £44m has been transferred from the Scottish health budget to pay council house debts.

The move has embroiled Health Minister Susan Deacon in a new row over NHS spending.

It will also shock hard-pressed hospitals – Tayside alone has a £12m.

Most of the £44m will be spent reducing the £1b council housing debt in Glasgow.

The money had been left over as a result of changes, made by the Labour Government in 1998, to the way hospital trusts were run.

It is being transferred despite a Labour Party manifesto pledge at the 1997 election that any savings from abolishing the Tory system of running the NHS would be spent on direct patient care.

Last night a health department spokesman defended the decision, saying it was ‘old money’ generated before devolution and held by the Treasury in London.

The only way it could have been accessed, he said, was by paying off debts.

He insisted it would have been lost to Scotland altogether if it had not been switched to the housing budget.






8 November 2000: The Truth about Health Service’s Missing Millions

The truth behind £44m of NHS money transferred out of the health budget was exposed last night after officials admitted it could instead have been invested back in hospitals.

On Monday they insisted the cash had to be spent on reducing council housing debt in Glasgow or it would be lost altogether because of strict Treasury rules.

But 24 hours later, after persistent questioning from the Scottish Daily Mail, health department officials agreed that, despite the complex financial procedures, the money could all have been spent on health.

The admission placed fresh pressure on Health Minister Susan Deacon to fight to have all the money returned to her budget.





18 November 2000: Waiting Lists Scandal; Health Minister under Attack as NHS Queues Increase by 15 Per Cent

The Scottish Executive faced criticism last night after it emerged that hospital waiting lists have risen by 15 per cent in the past 12 months.

Official figures show that there are now more people waiting for operations than there were when Labour came to power in 1997.

The number of people on waiting lists has risen over the course of the past year by 11,187, or 14.8 per cent, and there are now 86,540 people on waiting lists, way above the Government’s target of 75,000.





23 November 2000: ‘Clueless’ Health Minister Is in the Dark over Waiting Lists

Health Minister Susan Deacon came under attack yesterday after making an embarrassing blunder.

On a visit to Tayside, she was forced to admit that she did not know the hospital waiting list figures for the area.

Her admission was in spite of a massive 47 per cent increase in the list in the past year.

Miss Deacon was being interviewed on a local radio station during a visit to Dundee to meet new Tayside Health Board chairman Peter Barnes, and Jim McGoldrick, the new chairman of the Tayside University Hospitals NHS Trust.

Asked to comment on the increases in local waiting lists, she said: ‘I don’t know the figures for here’.

She then tried to divert the question to Paul White, chief executive of the Tayside NHS trust.







15 December 2000: Deacon’s Shot in the Arm for NHS; as the Health Minister Unveils Her Blueprint for a Major Overhaul of the Health Service, Labour Is Again Snared in a Row about Rising Waiting Times

Health Minister Susan Deacon promised a shake-up of the Scottish health service yesterday to speed up treatment and give patients a better service.

Miss Deacon published the Executive’s National Health Plan, which set out a series of targets and deadlines for treatment and revealed plans to streamline the management of local health boards and trusts.

The plans were given a cautious welcome by many health professionals, but some medical experts warned the proposals were too general and did not contain enough detail to bring about real change.

Experts drew up the plan in response to widespread dissatisfaction with the way the Executive was running the health service.

The results of a poll conducted for the Executive and disclosed exclusively in the Scottish Daily Mail, showed eight out of ten Scots believed Labour had failed to make any improvements to the health service.

Miss Deacon admitted patients were concerned about the care they received. She said:

“There were many concerns. Too many delays, too much fragmentation and too much waiting. Too little information and poor communication came up time and again. People felt that too often the NHS did things to them, rather than with them. They wanted to be cared for as well as cured”.

The plan also includes a series of new targets for waiting times, proposals to involve patients in decision-making and a determination to streamline the structure of health boards and health trusts.

Miss Deacon said no patient would have to wait more than nine months for hospital treatment – three months less than current waiting times.

The Health Minister said reducing waiting times was a priority for the Scottish Executive, and said she also wanted to ensure a patient’s journey from GP to the hospital to home was better and faster.

Miss Deacon also announced a shake-up of the structure of the NHS with trusts and boards to be replaced by a single board held accountable for the whole of the local health system.

She also plans to end the so-called ‘postcode lottery’ of treatment, which means some drugs and treatments are available in different parts of the country, depending on local decisions made by boards and trusts.

Miss Deacon said:

“We will work to end the postcode lottery of care which grew up under the Tory internal market”.





18 February 2001: Labours Shame over Hospital Waiting Times – Leaked Report Exposes Government’s Failure to Meet Pledges on Health Service

The number of patients forced to wait more than a year for NHS operations in Scotland has almost doubled since Labour came to power.

Figures leaked to the Scottish Mail on Sunday show that the total reached a record high of 1,150 last year.

This compares with just 600 in 1997 despite Labour promises that no-one should have to wait more than a year for treatment.

It leaves in tatters repeated pledges by Health Minister Susan Deacon to overhaul the NHS.

The leaked report spells out how waiting times for surgery are on the increase and those for hospital appointments are at an all-time high.

Even in the accident and emergency wards, patients are routinely being made to wait longer than ever.






15 March 2001: Strike threat at four Glasgow hospitals

Hospitals in Glasgow face the threat of chaos after a decision by medical secretaries to hold a ballot on strike action.

Union leaders warned yesterday that the dispute over pay and conditions could bring major disruption at the Royal Infirmary, Gartnavel, Stobhill, and the Western Infirmary.

More than 500 secretaries, employed by North Glasgow University NHS Trust, are demanding more money and better conditions.

Negotiations broke down earlier this week.





9 August 2001: Glasgow hospitals face chaos

Glasgow NHS hospitals faced disarray last night when medical secretaries began a three-day strike over pay.

As hundreds of secretaries marched from Glasgow’s George Square to the City Halls, hospital bosses conceded that waiting lists and non-emergency operations could be affected.

Nearly 300 secretaries at ten hospitals voted 91.3 per cent in favour of strike action after talks broke down between health workers union Unison, and North Glasgow NHS Trust after 14 months.

Staff in the north of Glasgow rejected a national offer that would see many staff awarded a 30 per cent pay increase over four years and voted to continue their own dispute.

They felt the deal would not apply to every member of staff and failed to recognise their skills.






2 November 2001: Medical secretaries walkout over pay

More than 300 medical secretaries walked out yesterday after claiming health chiefs had reneged on a deal to improve pay and conditions.

The secretaries, who work for North Glasgow NHS Trust, opted to strike indefinitely after negotiations to settle the dispute collapsed. Unison, the health service union, accused trust officials of going back on a promise to grade medical secretaries on the same scale as hospital managerial staff.

Unison claimed they had changed the timescale when secretaries would receive pay rises.

The trust confirmed that it would not upgrade secretaries until April.

Carolyn Leckie, branch secretary of Unison, said yesterday:

“The trust has failed to honour an agreement and that is why we have taken this stance.”