Mixed bag as NHS Lanarkshire publishes its Annual Review

Central Scotland list MSP Monica Lennon intends to keep 'asking questions'
Central Scotland list MSP Monica Lennon intends to keep 'asking questions'

More than one third of NHS Lanarkshire patients were not seen within the 12-week treatment time guarantee.

Just 62.6 per cent were seen on time according to the figures published in the 2017-18 Annual Review which was discussed in front of over 100 members of the public.

Health minister Jeane Freeman was unable to attend the meeting. but mental health minister Clare Haughey stood in.

Improvements are already being made, but it was also revealed that staff sickness absence rates were running higher than targeted, at 5.65 per cent.

In A&E, 90 per cent of patients were admitted, discharged or transferred within four hours against a target of 95 per cent.

However, the health board was hailed as one of the best places to study in Scotland by chairwoman Neena Mahal and has consistently met cancer treatment waiting time targets over the past few years.

An innovative care home continence improvement project has helped reduce falls in care homes by 65 per cent, while a new rapid emergency assessment care team at Monklands has made the service more efficient.

The health board has continued to break even financially, however many of the savings are nonrecurring, like selling off buildings, meaning savings will have to come from other areas in future. However, staffing levels have been maintained as a result.

After the meeting, NHS Lanarkshire depute chief executive Heather Knox said: “We were delighted we had over 100 people attending the public meeting of our annual review.

“We are really proud of what we achieved for local people and I took the opportunity to highlight some key performance areas where we have delivered good service.”

Central Scotland list MSP Monica Lennon, Scottish Labour’s health spokesperson, asked about the budget pressures facing NHS Lanarkshire.

She said: “I asked Ms Knox, further to her recent evidence session to the Scottish Parliament’s health and sport committee about the financial support they will need in order to improve waiting times.

“They have not been able to meet the treatment time guarantee. There has been some improvement, but we are also looking at the financial report which shows that whilst they have managed to break even they have had to make a lot of nonrecurring savings. I would have hoped to hear more from the Minister about what the Scottish Government is doing.

“I was concerned to hear the private sector being mentioned a couple of times. I think if we are struggling in terms of performance and finances and starting to rely on the private sector, that will be expensive and I worry about the standards of care and the impact on staff.

“There is lots to keep asking questions about.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The purpose of reviews is to discuss how effectively health boards have delivered local services in the preceding year, and to explore future developments and challenges.

“The Health Secretary chaired the first stage of the NHS Lanarkshire’s Annual Review at University Hospital Hairmyres on November 2, involving meetings with local clinicians, other NHS staff and patients, as well as a detailed discussion of local performance with the board leadership.

“The Government will continue to keep local progress against national standards under close review.”

Stephen Bark - Local Democracy Reporting Service