Surgeon Jon Dearing took a swipe at the First Minister after claiming that operating theatres could have remained open safely despite coronavirus. He said that the Scottish Government was “paralysed with fear” of a second spike in coronavirus cases which could potentially create a waiting list of three years.
The Orthopaedic specialist stressed that he and many colleagues were “intensely frustrated” at being left “twiddling their thumbs” while many hospitals remain empty.
He claimed the Scottish Government’s approach is forcing many patients to travel south of the border to receive private treatment in England.
Dr Dearing told The Sunday Mail Scotland: “We should be getting going and the Government is not letting us, we aren’t being given permission to get cracking.
“In England and elsewhere in Europe, elective surgery started weeks ago but in Scotland, it’s still being blocked.
“I don’t know why they’re doing this but my personal opinion is there are two elements to it.
“The first is that the NHS still isn’t set up in some areas of the country in terms of having staff in the right places, though in many areas it is.
“The second is, they’re terrified of a second spike. They’re paralysed by the fear of being seen to do the wrong thing but when we had the first spike, surgical wards sat empty while surgeons were sat twiddling their thumbs.
“We just weren’t overwhelmed the first time around.”
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MSP Monica Lennon, Scottish Labour health representative, added: “It’s extremely worrying that some patients could be waiting years for surgery because the Scottish Government doesn’t know which way to turn.”
In response to the concerns, the Scottish Government said that an evidence-based, cautious and phased approach to resuming NHS services, including orthopaedic surgery was being followed.
A spokesman added: “The safety and wellbeing of NHS staff and patients continues to be a top priority, which is why we are taking a cautious approach as we take these next steps.”
At the same time, Scotland’s Health Secretary has raised issues over communication between the devolved administrations and Westminster on coronavirus.
Appearing before the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee, Jeane Freeman said conversations with the UK Government have not been consistent.
He added: “Cooperation and collaboration requires discussion, it is not simply the communication of decisions.”
The First Minister has also suggested that the NHS Louisa Jordan temporary hospital in Glasgow which was built to treat COVID-19 patients could be used to help clear the backlog of thousands of Scots who have had surgeries postponed during the pandemic.
She told MSPs: “I can confirm that as part of the remobilisation plans we are looking at whether and to what extent we could use the NHS Louisa Jordan to do some elective treatment.”