Operations cancelled due to lack of capacity

I have had sight of figures which show that operations had to be cancelled across NHS Highland because hospitals simply could not cope.
Data published by ISD Scotland shows that 45 operations were cancelled in May 2019 due to non-clinical reasons such as not having enough staff or unclean equipment.
Across Scotland, 500 planned operations were cancelled in May 2019 because hospitals could not cope.
Scottish Labour has pointed out that the figures show our NHS is simply not getting enough resources from the SNP government.
We have to remember that behind each of these figures is a patient waiting in pain for treatment that hospitals have not been able to give.
We have seen a staffing crisis develop in our health service, with huge unfilled gaps for consultants, nurses and midwives.
Patients across NHS Highland are being let down by the SNP government and are not getting the care they deserve.
It is time to use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to properly fund our NHS.

HIV data incident NHS Highland

Scottish Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, MSP David Stewart, asked Nicola Sturgeon about the incident where the email addresses of almost 40 people living with HIV were accidentally made public by NHS Highland.

Mr Stewart, who represents the Highlands and Islands, raised the issue at First Minister’s Questions today.

He said: “The First Minister will be well aware of an alleged data breach by NHS Highland which exposed confidential names and email addresses of 37 people living with HIV.

“Whilst I welcome the apology by the board, does the First Minister share my view that confidentiality is a core principle of the NHS and the decision to disclose HIV status is a matter for individuals themselves and theirs alone.”

Nicola Sturgeon agreed very strongly saying that the safety of patient data was of “the utmost importance”.

She added that the breach was reported to Information Commissioner within 24 hours. NHS Highland had taken steps to apologise to patients, respond directly to any concerns and a formal internal review was being carried out. The First Minister admitted that “clearly there have been failings”.

Afterwards Mr Stewart added that he had written to NHS Highland’s Chief Executive, Iain Stewart, to ask that he be kept informed of the outcome of the internal review and the findings of the Information Commissioner.

“Keeping patients’ data confidential is essential for everyone and I hope lessons can be learned as a result of this breach,” said the MSP.
“HIV is a very sensitive subject for those with the virus and I am told this breach has caused some distress.”

FMQ’s – 16.05.19

Today at FMQ’s, I highlighted the mental health care needs of those with diabetes during mental health awareness week.
You can see my question and the First Minister’s response.

Elgin doctors explain concerns over new GP Contract

MSPs need to get out and about to understand the problems of the health service and yesterday David Stewart was invited to Elgin Health Centre to talk about the effect of the new GP Contract on rural practices.
“Thanks to doctors Robert Lockhart and Charlie Hornsby for the briefing,” said Mr Stewart.
“You may remember the practice was featured in the BBC2 series The Family Doctors. It’s one of the busiest practices in Scotland.
“As a member of the Health and Sport Committee, I will be investigating Primary Care and the valid concerns of GPs throughout the remote and rural Highlands and Islands.”

Possible causes for health service bullying – Sturrock review

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP and Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, David Stewart, says the Sturrock review shines a light on the possible causes of the pressures encountered by front line staff.

He highlights a section in the report on possible causes of bullying and harassment in the NHS and he accuses the Government of taking health service staff for granted for far too long.

Although Sturrock says there are multiple causes of the symptoms, detailed in the report, he touches on increased pressure to perform and meet targets.
Sturrock says: “…over the past ten years in times of austerity, with budget restrictions and reduced spending, financial constraints can often lead to people feeling overwhelmed at work with too much to do and not enough time or resource.

This is likely to cause stress and may lead to behaviour which is inappropriate. I have heard a number of examples of this, with senior and other employees at breaking point.”

Mr Stewart said: “There is no doubt that austerity is harming our public services and Sturrock shines a light on what the result can be – staff being bullied and harassed due to financial constraints being placed on them.

“While nothing excuses bullying in the work place, this factor has to be seriously looked into. I think most people will see the results of pressure in their work place, but add to this growing staff shortages in the health service, and particularly in NHS Highland, and a picture is building of the possible effect on staff and managers’ behaviours.”

In Parliament yesterday Mr Stewart’s Labour Highlands and Islands colleague, Rhoda Grant, raised concerns that problems within NHS Highland, and throughout the Scottish health service, were fed by staff shortages and cuts putting enormous pressure on staff.

She asked Health Secretary Jeane Freeman, how she was going to tackle this but Ms Freeman did not accept that a significant proportion of difficultly was around the financial resourcing of the boards.

Mrs Grant said today: “Our health service is in crisis and the SNP Government are in denial and have dragged their feet about tackling problems created by austerity. It’s time they took their heads out of the sand.”

Sturrock was told from one employee: “Austerity has been a major factor. The NHS was used to solutions made out of additional investment from Government. When this becomes no longer possible, the pressure within the entire NHS system increased.”

One director told Sturrock: “As a senior leader I have felt bullied and harassed by the organisation, by the Scottish Government. What I do believe is that in the NHS now people are feeling so pressurised. It’s a horrible environment. It’s targets. It’s finance. It’s political. Populist policies don’t have the resources to fill them. NHSH is just one health board of many that are suffering.”

Mr Stewart added: “NHS staff are the bedrock of our health service, but they have been taken for granted by the Government for too long.

“To see real change in the working environments and culture across health and social care, health boards and the Scottish Government need to address the systemic issues that are causing health and care professionals to become disillusioned and burnt out.”

Mr Stewart said he would be raising these issues as a member of the Health and Sport Committee and with Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman.

* After Ms Freeman’s statement on the Sturrock review yesterday Mr Stewart told MSPs: “NHS Highland is my home board area. I have dealt with the board for over 20 years in two Parliaments, from the chief executive and boards members, to cleaners and patients. No amount of experience prepared me for the GMB organised event in the autumn of last year. Over 60 people attended who spoke with one voice on the toxic culture of bullying within the organisation. Can the Cab Sec outline what new system can be put in place for all those who lost jobs, who left jobs and who suffered mental health problems. We must never forget their experience.
Mr Stewart also asked Ms Freeman what assessment had been made of the effect bullying had had on the credibility of NHS Highland and its ability to recruit and retain staff

MSP raises issue of opioid addiction at FMQs

MSP raises issue of opioid addiction at FMQ’s
Regional Labour MSP for the Highlands and Islands and Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, David Stewart raised the issue of opioid addiction to the First Minister during FMQ’s today (02/05/2019).
David Stewart asked the First Minister in Holyrood today, what assessment the Scottish Government has made regarding opioid addiction after The Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Dame Dally Davies, spoke to The Sunday Times highlighting how serious the issue of painkiller addiction has become.
Opioids such as morphine, tramadol and fentanyl are super strong painkillers, which can be highly addictive and can have serious health consequences.
Speaking at FMQ’s, David Stewart said: “Opioids contributed to 815 drug deaths in Scotland in 2017, does the First Minister share my serious concerns about addiction that is created by super-strength opioid painkillers, which have a dark side and can ruin lives every bit as much as illegal drugs can?”
The First Minister highlighted that Mr Stewart has raised these “legitimate” concerns in the past and that achieving a comprehensive picture of opioid use is a challenge due to the nature of illicit drug taking.
She added that the Chief Medical Officer for Scotland and a short-life working group of experts would examine the trends relating to long-term strong opioid prescription in Scotland.
Speaking after FMQ’s Mr Stewart said: “Opioid addiction is becoming a growing concern, and it’s imperative that the Scottish Government tackles it now before it gets any worst.”
Mr Stewart continued: “I understand that the Scottish Government has to examine trends relating to long-term opioid use however, it’s not dealing with the immediate issue and growing trend. Continued use of opoid over a long period can lead to addiction, which we all know can have life-altering consequences. I will continue to press for change so that this trend of opiate drug addiction can be stopped in its tracks.”

MSP contacts TSB chief executive after closure and reduced hours released


MSP David Stewart has called for the UK Government to take action to stem the flow of bank closures and the pattern of reduced banking hours following the announcement that the TSB is to close a Moray branch and cut hours at other branches across the Highlands.

Mr Stewart, who represents the Highlands and Islands, which includes Moray, has been told that TSB is to close its Keith branch because “it is no longer financially viable due to lower footfall”.

The bank is also reducing the opening hours of eight branches in the region – Dunoon, Forres, Nairn, Wick, Tain, Thurso, Grantown-on-Spey and Dingwall. Customers will be receiving letters this week.

TSB says all eight have “reduced customer usage over time and low usage overall”.

“This is another body blow for rural areas which have already suffered from other banks closing and reducing their hours,” said Mr Stewart.

“I’ve written to TSB’s Chief Executive, Debbie Crosbie, to ask if Keith can be saved and to try to get some reassures that the other eight branches will not see closure in the future.

“While I understand that banking patterns have changed, branches provide a much-needed service and not everyone can use internet banking, especially where internet coverage is patchy, and where customers are wary of on-line systems.

“Businesses and tourists also need a High Street presence. TSB has said in order that branches are viable in the longer-term it needs to see customers choosing to bank at them, highlighting a use-it or lose-it message, especially for the Highlands.

The UK Government has responsibility for banking and Mr Stewart believes more could be done to help maintain banks on our High Streets.

The next Labour government will set up almost 300 publicly owned Post Banks in Scotland to ensure every community has face-to-face banking. By utilising the extensive network of Post Office branches, Labour’s Post Bank would have by far the largest branch network of all UK banks,” he said.

Mr Stewart added that a network of Post Bank branches would help stem the tide of post office closures, uniting important banking, business and community services under one roof and creating skilled jobs within one of the country’s most trusted brands.


Research by Which? has revealed that Scotland has lost more than a third of its bank and building society branches in just eight years, with 610 branches closing down between 2010 and 2018, and more than 200 ATMs in the past year alone.

Job Vacancy: Office Manager

Rhoda Grant MSP and David Stewart MSP (Highlands & Islands) are looking for an enthusiastic and highly organised individual to join their team as an Office Manager based in Inverness.
This is a full-time position based in Inverness with some travel required.
Hours: 35 per week
Salary: £32,000 – £34,000

To read the job description and to apply please click here: