The Guardian reports that the NHS in Scotland faces substantial and deep-rooted problems with declining standards of patient care, according to an Audit Scotland report published today.

Caroline Gardner, the auditor general, said the quality of many NHS services had been steadily worsening, that these problems “have intensified over the past year”, and that the Scottish Government’s own programme for reforming the NHS was failing to meet its objectives.

Scottish Labour Public Services Spokesperson Jackie Baillie said:

“The NHS is our most valued public service. Now more than ever we need a health service that is free at the point of use, delivering care to people no matter how much money they have

Staff work round the clock to deliver the care Scots need but under the SNP Government it has suffered from a lack of resources, and a sticking plaster approach which kicks problems into the long grass.

Nicola Sturgeon wants people to judge her on her record, but this damning expert report shows that the SNP Government in Edinburgh has cut the NHS budget, and patients and staff have suffered as a result.

Those problems are now becoming apparent, and they are very serious. For our NHS to be suffering across such a broad ranges of issues, affecting so many health boards, shows that these are not isolated incidents but a fundamental problem with how the SNP have managed our NHS.

For years the SNP have protested that they were protecting the health budget – today’s expert report shows that the health budget decreased on their watch.

The SNP Government has presided over a target driven culture in our NHS and then failed to resource our health service properly so that seven out of nine of these targets have seen a performance that just isn’t good enough.

We are seeing an increased use of private staff to cover shifts and vacancies for A&E staff lying unfilled for six months: under the SNP NHS staff are undervalued, under resourced and under intolerable pressure. This sticking plaster approach cannot continue. It’s time for the SNP Government to get a grip and deliver an NHS fit for the future.”