18 December 2018

(S5T-01412) Rail Transport (Festive Period Performance)

Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP): I refer to my entry in the register of members’ interests.

Has the United Kingdom Government apologised to the Scottish Government for the performance of Network Rail, which it owns?

Michael Matheson: There is absolutely no doubt that, in the past couple of years, and the past year in particular, the performance of Network Rail has had a significant impact on rail service performance in Scotland—so much so that the ORR has initiated proceedings against Network Rail for its failure to respond effectively to address concerns that service operators, including ScotRail, have raised. In excess of 60 per cent of the delays and cancellations in Scotland have been caused by Network Rail. That tells me that there is something seriously wrong with the existing structural arrangements for our rail service.

The fact that Network Rail is not accountable to the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish Government or the people of Scotland through the Scottish Government is a major weakness in how we can deliver rail services. The sooner that we have direct control over the infrastructure elements of our rail network alongside the passenger provisions in order to deliver a better service for the travelling public in Scotland, the better.

12 December 2018

(S5O-02669) Scope Capacity

1. Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Government what progress it is making in meeting the target in its cancer strategy to increase national health service scope capacity by an additional 2,000 per annum on a sustainable basis. (S5O-02669)

The Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport (Jeane Freeman): Since 2016, £6 million of funding has been released directly to NHS boards, including £1 million annually since 2016-17, for scope capacity. In 2018-19 alone, that will support an additional projected 2,250 scopes through 560 endoscopy sessions.

Stewart Stevenson: I was the grateful recipient of a negative diagnosis after a scope a couple of years ago and, like others, I very much welcomed that. Will the Scottish Government indicate how it is monitoring the spend by individual health boards and the outcomes that the 2,250 additional scopes in the current year will deliver?

Jeane Freeman: I am sure that Mr Stevenson will recall our waiting times improvement plan, which I published in October. That plan includes an operational board that has senior health board and other expertise on it, and it will monitor for me both the delivery of the plan against the trajectories that are in it and the individual actions of specific boards against the funding that we release. We release the funding in response to specific requests to increase diagnostic, elective or other capacity in a particular board in order to deliver specific results. The money is allocated and the monitoring is done on that basis.

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