SCOTLAND’S anaesthetists have said the next Scottish Government should jump-start the pandemic recovery and address worries they say are preventing the delivery of an efficient NHS.

In a manifesto released yesterday, Royal College of Anaesthetists (RCoA) said that during the pandemic, their members’ central role in routine and critical care had become more apparent than ever.

Across Scotland and the rest of the UK, they had stepped up to support the NHS at its time of greatest need, treating the sickest Covid-19 patients while helping to maintain cancer, maternity, and other urgent and planned services. Its manifesto wants the next government to address staff shortages in the field, support the health and wellbeing of NHS staff and put clearing the surgery backlog at the centre of its coronavirus recovery plan.

The RCoA also wants the government to prioritise the public’s health by taking action on obesity and making digital working the best it can be, with investment in NHS IT infrastructure and practical IT support.

Dr Daphne Varveris, chair of the RCoA’s Scottish board, said the manifesto was a roadmap for tackling the challenges as the NHS emerges from the pandemic, and presented solutions to some of the challenges that predated it.

She said: “During the pandemic, anaesthetists have played a central role in the treatment of Covid and non-Covid patients and so too will be essential to building back services. The future Scottish Government must recognise that the success of any recovery plan will rest on having an adequately staffed workforce, mentally and physically prepared to take on the rising challenges. We need to see a workforce strategy that not only looks to fill the existing gaps and plan for future needs, but one which fights to retain the talented and dedicated staff already in the system. Improving amenities, increasing psychological support, and introducing a flexible culture is not only the right thing to do, but it is essential for the Scottish NHS to provide the best care for its patients.

“Politicians must listen to those with the experience and understanding on how to tackle the healthcare crisis in Scotland.

“The college will continue to work closely with any new government to improve NHS services for patients and staff. By working together, we will not only be able to recover our services but build an NHS truly fit for the future.”