The Conservative candidate for North Ayrshire has criticised the amount NHS Ayrshire and Arran have shelled out on legal costs as 'deeply alarming' when frontline services are 'under strain'.

But the Scottish Government have responded that NHS staffing is at 'record levels' and there will be further investment in bolstering numbers.

Todd Ferguson's remarks come after responses to a series of Freedom of Information requests by the Scottish Conservatives showed health boards across Scotland have spent over £60 million in legal costs since 2018, due to dissatisfied patients taking them to court.

NHS Ayrshire and Arran has spent £5,401,317 on legal costs, with a total of 142 claims made against NHS Ayrshire and Arran.

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Mr Ferguson says his thoughts go out to patients who have been affected by failings in NHS Ayrshire and Arran.

The politician, who is standing as a Scottish Conservative and Unionist candidate in North Ayrshire and Arran, said: “My thoughts are with those patients who have been badly let down.

“However, the buck stops with a series of SNP health secretaries, including Humza Yousaf and the current incumbent, the discredited Michael Matheson, who have presided over dire workforce planning in our NHS.

“That has left NHS Ayrshire and Arran woefully under-resourced.

“Dedicated staff in NHS Ayrshire and Arran are overstretched, and tragically – but inevitably – this is leading to more mistakes being made.

Largs and Millport Weekly News: Crosshouse HosptialCrosshouse Hosptial (Image: Newsquest)

“While anyone who has been on the receiving end of sub-standard care is perfectly justified in lodging a claim, doing so adds to the pressures on NHS Ayrshire and Arran’s budget.

“They can ill-afford costly legal battles when, ideally, every last penny ought to be spent on supporting frontline services in NHS Ayrshire and Arran.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We sympathise with any patient whose treatment has failed to reach the standards we all expect from our health system. Scotland has one of the most transparent healthcare systems in the world and is also a leader in patient safety.

“As with all health systems, where legal cases arise, there will be a necessary level of costs - but we seek to limit that as far as possible and our NHS learns constantly from care experiences that go well and those where standards falls short.

“NHS Scotland staffing is at record levels and is being further bolstered by our investment, since autumn 2021, of some £18 million to recruit 1,250 nurses, midwives and allied health professionals from overseas by the end of this financial year.”