Scotland’s NHS is in crisis.
It has been in crisis for many years, since well before the pandemic struck. All Covid did was make a bad situation far worse.
Waiting time targets have been missed. Patients have been waiting far too long for essential treatment. Our amazing NHS workforce have been undervalued.
Mismanagement and incompetence from Humza Yousaf, and Nicola Sturgeon before him, has pushed our NHS to breaking point.
With the whole NHS in crisis, sometimes it can be easy to overlook the horrendous waiting times for treatments that are not life-saving.
We often fixate, quite understandably, on the waiting times for urgent cancer care, for emergency treatment, for major heart or lung operations.
But some surgeries, while not immediately life-saving, are still incredibly important to the people who need them.
Breast reconstruction surgery will not save someone’s life in the way that an operation to remove a tumour can.
But it is still absolutely vital to help women in need of that surgery as quickly as possible.
The consequences of a lengthy waiting time on a woman’s mental health can be devastating.
Breast cancer treatment is not just physically demanding, it is emotionally taxing too. The women I’ve spoken to say that mentally, it is exhausting. It damages confidence. The treatment can have deep, lasting personal repercussions.
Reconstruction gives women the chance to regain control of their bodies. It can restore confidence and give women the power to get their lives back on track.
It is vital that women who have gone through the difficulty of breast cancer treatment can receive reconstruction surgery quickly.
But last week, I raised an appalling case and horrendous statistics on this topic directly to the First Minister Humza Yousaf in the Scottish Parliament.
I challenged Humza Yousaf over waiting times in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde that have spiralled out of control.
A Freedom of Information response I received showed that in 2019, just 33 women were waiting for reconstruction treatment. Those women waited an average of 31 days.
Now, 163 women are waiting. They’re waiting an average of 337 days.
So, the average wait time for this surgery has increased 12-fold in just four years.
But for some women, it can be far worse.
I brought Humza Yousaf’s attention to a constituent who contacted me with a heart-breaking story. She has been waiting for 736 days.
It has been more than three years since her mastectomy.
She was told her surgery would take place by October 21st. That date has come and gone.
The SNP leader agreed with me that this was unacceptable.
I urged him to take urgent steps to cut waiting times. I’m sad to say that his response was underwhelming.
The SNP Government needs to step up, take responsibility and act quickly so these waiting times come down fast.
Leaving women in limbo is shocking. It could leave them feeling vulnerable, lost, and unable to move on with their lives.
They deserve much better than that. They must have the opportunity to restore their confidence and regain control of their bodies. I’ll keep fighting hard to make sure women across Scotland get the support they need.