MSP in call to wind up Test and Protect and reinvest in NHS
A NORTH-east MSP is calling for Test and Protect to be wound up and the money saved reinvested in the NHS.
Conservative MSP for the North East region Tess White is urging the Scottish Government to progressively wind-up the system, which is designed to help prevent the spread of Covid and spend the cash on employing more nurses for NHS Grampian.
Ms White’s call comes after recent figures revealed the SNP has allocated £211 million to Test and Protect during 2021/22.
Research from the Scottish Conservatives shows if that money was diverted into frontline services, more than 8000 extra nurses could be employed across Scotland, with 790 of these at NHS Grampian.
Ms White says that the Test and Protect system was a valuable resource during the early stages of the pandemic but has now become increasingly redundant in recent months.
Figures show that during the peak of the Omicron wave, 60 per cent of positive cases in Scotland were not contacted within 72 hours.
The Scottish Conservatives have published a policy blueprint entitled Back to Normality which recommends a move away from mass testing towards representative sampling, which would allow for a dramatic reduction in the resource allocated to monitor Covid.
Ms White says resources must now be diverted away from Test and Protect towards supporting frontline services to help tackle ever-growing treatment backlogs and missed A&E waiting times.
She said: “As we continue to see positive data surrounding Covid, we need to see a more targeted approach to the virus from the SNP government.
“Part of the approach should be replacing Test and Protect. It was vital during many stages of the Covid crisis in helping to trace cases in the north-east but is now not serving its purpose.
“These figures are stark and show how money could be diverted towards hiring more nurses at the NHS Grampian if over £200 million wasn’t being spent on Test and Protect.
“Frontline services across the north-east are in desperate need of extra money and support. A&E waiting times are being missed every week, the treatment backlog is ever-growing and heroic staff are absolutely exhausted.
“As we look beyond the pandemic, we need to see the Scottish Government adapt to the new situation and investing in almost 800 new nurses for NHS Grampian would be an ideal way to do so.”
However, Banffshire and Buchan Coast SNP MSP Karen stated that staff shortages were the result of Brexit rather than a lack of investment by the Scottish Government.
She continued: “I am deeply disappointed in Tess White’s spin on this very important issue of labour shortages in the country.
"If Tess White had actually listened to senior members the of NHS at our monthly briefings with them, Tess would understand that staff shortages have absolutely not been caused by lack of investment, but caused by implications of exiting the EU.
“The Scottish Government continue to govern responsibly by balancing public health while also promoting individual freedoms. For example, PCR tests will remain in place for those who have symptoms. Lateral flow tests will also continue to be available to anybody, even if they have don't have symptoms.
“No matter how Conservative politicians try to deflect and spin their own failures, the public are wise to it now. The only way Scotland can combat the UK wide issue of labour shortages is if we escape the damaging decisions of the London government. Decisions effecting Scotland must be decided by the people living in Scotland, that’s why we need to become an independent country.”