Great Britain

FMQs: Nicola Sturgeon under fire over NHS out-of-hour GP closures

Nicola Sturgeon insisted that the out-of-hour changes are temporary
Nicola Sturgeon insisted that the out-of-hour changes are temporary

Nicola Sturgeon today came under fire over the closure of NHS out-of-hours GP services in greater Glasgow.

The SNP leader insisted that the changes are "temporary" and more NHS staff are being recruited by the Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board.

There are concerns that patients may be left with journeys of up to 20 miles for treatment and the situation could last up to two years.

Labour Leader Richard Leonard raised concerns over the impact the change will put on"overstretched" A&E services which will have to take the extra burden.

Mr Leonard said: “We’ve got GP services under threat, out of hours services closing and A&E waiting times going up. The Government talks of a whole system approach, is this how the First Minister defines a whole system approach?

Or is it a whole system failure?”

It comes after figures this week showed one in three patients wait more than four hours in A&E, while one in four patients not being treated within the SNP government’s 12-week guaranteed time.

Mr Leonard added: “It is not enough for the First Minister to keep apologising to patients waiting too long, to families anxious and in distress, to NHS staff under-resourced, under-valued and over-stretched.

"Isn’t it time the First Minister recognised her accountability, took some responsibility and finally started meeting her own targets?”

Ms Sturgeon insisted that the changes announced by Greater Glasgow and Clyde were "temporary" while a recruitment campaign is undertaken.

"It has been made clear to the health board, and the health secretary will continue to make it clear, that they have a responsibility to ensure there are improvements and to make sure their out of hours services meet the needs of their local population," she said.

A full "homes visiting" service will be maintained by GPs across all Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Ms Sturgeon added, with transport available for those who need it to get to A&E.

The SNP leader insisted that A&E waiting times in Scotland are the best in the UK and "significantly better than where Labour is in Government in Wales."