The health of the NHS locally and nationwide has been examined this week by Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron, who revealed statistics showing that almost one third of all operations in the Isles last year, were cancelled due to “capacity issues”.
Last year 152 operations were cancelled, the majority of which had been cancelled by patients or for medical reasons, however, 47 of those operations had to be cancelled due to a “capacity or non-medical reason”.
The Conservative politician said these figures highlight the effect on patients of the widespread staffing crisis across the whole of the Scottish NHS.
Currently across the country there are more than 2,500 vacant nursing and midwifery posts and over 400 vacant consultant posts.
In NHS Western Isles, there are 15 vacancies in nursing and midwifery, with four posts vacant for more than six months, while there are four consultant vacancies, which have all been free for more than six months.
The number of cancellations due to capacity issues in NHS Western Isles for the period ending 31st March was 30.9%, which is just above the national average of 25.1%.
Mr Cameron said: “The SNP have been underfunding our NHS for years and now patients are paying the price.
“The unfortunate reality is that because of a lack of long term planning, almost a third of elective surgeries have been cancelled, putting patients at risk.
“Instead of trying to secure a second independence referendum, Nicola Sturgeon should be focussed on tackling the immediate problems in our health system that affect Scots every day.”
The Gazette asked NHS Western Isles about the issues highlighted by the figures quoted by Mr Cameron, they were able to paint a fuller picture in regards to the statistics, clarifying: “Based on cases that were still booked on the day of, or the day before surgery, our data shows 12.6% (152 out of 1,209) of elective theatre cases booked were cancelled.”
However the health authority offered no comment in regards to staffing vacancies and capacity issues.