NOTHING is off the table and “every single option nationally is being considered” when it comes to tackling the crisis crippling the NHS, Scotland’s Health Secretary has said.

Humza Yousaf’s comments come after SNP MP Dr Philippa Whitford warned that the “nightmare” gripping the health service could still worsen – and said it demanded an emergency, COBRA-level response.

The NHS across the UK has faced unprecedented strain as pressures from high levels of Covid and flu combine with the impact of a decade of austerity imposed from Westminster.

Yousaf has pledged that every option is being considered when it comes to addressing the crisis north of the Border.

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Speaking to Global News, the Health Secretary said “nothing is off the table”, going on: “Every option has to be on the table rightly as oncologists are saying.

“I met with the Royal College of Emergency Medicine just this morning so every single option nationally is being considered because of the scale of the pressure we’re under.”

Yousaf did except field hospitals, saying the idea had been considered as dismissed as unfeasible “for a whole range of reasons”.

He also suggested that he did not like the idea of stopping all elective care, saying: “Some health boards are rightly taking the decision to reduce their elective care given the pressures of unscheduled care.

The National: Health Secretary Humza Yousaf

“I’m reluctant to nationally stop elective care right across the board because we know doing so means people then wait longer on waiting lists, they deteriorate in condition and probably end up on the front door of our A&Es anyway and we store up problems for the future.”

Yousaf (above) said that action was being taken with an aim of freeing up bed capacity in hospitals, seen as one of the primary reasons for the massive waiting times in A&Es.

“We’ve seen some marginal gains in reducing delayed discharge but numbers are still far, far too high,” he added.

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Rishi Sunak’s Tory government have been accused of pretending there is not a crisis in the NHS, after the Prime Minister's official spokesperson claimed on Tuesday that the health service had already been given the funding it needs to see the winter through.

TV presenter Dr Hilary Jones hit out at the Conservatives over the rhetoric, saying on ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “For Rishi Sunak and the Government to pretend that this is not a crisis when more than a dozen trusts have announced critical incidents is not only delusional, as the BMA say, I would say at the very best it’s ill-informed misjudgment, at the very worst it’s total irresponsibility and incompetence.”

“I have never known anything like this,” he added.