Reducing NHS pressures is of fundamental importance in responding to recent winter death toll figures, a local politician has claimed.

As the Herald previously reported, Scotland’s death toll for the coldest months of the year has reached its worst since the 1990s, with an estimated 750 people in North Ayrshire dying last winter.

Kenneth Gibson, MSP for Cunninghame North, says he is deeply concerned by the increased number of winter deaths in North Ayrshire.

Following the challenges faced last winter, plans have been put in place as the Scottish Government prepares for the difficult months ahead.

They have launched a winter resilience plan - which aims to tackle the seasonal increase in hospital admissions with an extra £12million funding this winter.

It is hoped that this will permit for the expansion of the Hospital Home Service which allows people - especially elderly patients, patients with respiratory conditions, and children - to receive treatments in the comfort of their own home and will crucially help reduce pressure on our A&E department.

Mr Gibson said: “This is intended to deliver at least 380 additional beds this winter – significantly increasing the total service capacity and tackling delayed discharge.

“An additional 1,000 nurses and Allied Health Professionals have joined NHS Scotland in the last two years and will bolster the existing workforce this winter.

“A £50million funding boost for the Scottish Ambulance Service - 1,388 people have joined the service since 2020 - will help tackle increased demand and drive up capacity for emergency response and help reduce the need for people to go to hospital, which is a key part of the NHS approach this winter.”

Though it is not expected that the winter resilience plan is going to cover all difficulties and challenges that the NHS will face this winter, but it is hoped it will remove some strain and provide relief to the already struggling services.

Patricia Gibson, MP for North Ayrshire and Arran says that the impetus lies with Westminster, if wholesale reductions in these shocking death tolls is to be seen. 

The SNP MP said: “Scotland has long experienced more deaths in winter than at any other time.

“Whilst flu, Covid and respiratory illness play a major role, so does the cold itself.

“That’s why, with the cost of living crisis still biting, SNP MPs have called for months on the UK Tory Government to restore the £400 energy bill rebate to be restored.

"Sadly, both Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer have refused to support such a move.

“However, for good health people need to live in warm, comfortable homes – and so this is a matter I and my SNP colleagues will continue to press.”