WHILE there has rightly been a focus on tackling Covid over the last 18 months, many residents have been living in pain while awaiting vital treatment.

Even before the pandemic, thousands of people were waiting too long for operations or procedures. As we look to accelerate our NHS recovery, these challenges are about to get more significant as winter approaches.

Prior to Covid, the SNP Government was constantly failing to meet its treatment time guarantee. The SNP’s own guarantee places a legal requirement on health boards that once planned treatment has been agreed, the patient must receive treatment within 12 weeks.

This promise is routinely and consistently broken.

This is a disgraceful situation and across the Lothians there is a clear capacity problem, which again predates the pandemic.

Our local NHS is under-resourced and under-staffed.

As winter approaches, I fear a rise in Covid cases, or a spike in winter flu, could put even more pressure on the NHS. Our heroic frontline health service staff are already tired and burnt out, having worked tirelessly through the pandemic.

As usual, the SNP Government’s proposed solutions come too little too late. A new NHS Lothian elective centre won’t be on stream until 2025. A new Eye Pavilion is promised to be built, but when? At the same time, population growth across the Lothians continues to put further strain on our already overstretched hospitals and GP practices.

Rather than continued excuses, it is time SNP Ministers come forward with a fully costed, fully funded plan to remobilise our NHS and combat excessive waiting times. I will continue to push the SNP to back our plans for a one-off £600 million investment in our NHS, specifically designed to tackle waiting times. That’s what patients deserve.