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Health secretary challenged over Highland children’s services waiting times

Health secretary Shona Robison
Health secretary Shona Robison

Health Secretary Shona Robison has been challenged on efforts to cut waiting times for children’s health services in the Highlands.

North MSP Rhoda Grant used questions in Holyrood to highlight figures showing 151 youngsters in the region were waiting more than 18 weeks for services such as speech and language therapy, occupational therapy and dietetics.

The Labour representative asked: “What is the cabinet secretary going to do to make sure that those children get the best start in life?”

Ms Robison responded: “Highland Council has advised that staffing continues to be an issue, particularly for speech and language therapy, but it has recruited to a number of occupational therapy posts recently, so it expects waiting times to decrease.

“The allied health professional workforce that Rhoda Grant refers to is crucial, and it is expanding.

“Of course, it provides that really important support in the early years. The Highlands have tried some quite innovative ways of improving services.

“For example, Rhoda Grant might be aware of the telephone consultation and triage that is being developed to give people quicker access to advice and support.”

The SNP minister added that the Highlands would be “getting its share” of an additional 500 health visitors which are due to be recruited.

After the exchange, Ms Grant said: “Every delay could equal a serious setback for some children and young people and the Scottish Government need to seriously look at increasing investment and national training programmes and backing projects which encourage professionals to come to the Highlands and Islands.”

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