Net Zero nadir for ‘Active Travel’ SNP Government: If you smash limb in an accident, don’t go to A and E

by Colin Campbell

A COUPLE of months ago every public sector organisation in Scotland looking to gain brownie points with the Scottish Government, or maybe acting under orders from the Scottish Government, issued a blizzard of press releases about their determination to become Net Zero, Carbon Neutral, Emissions Free by some date in the distant future.

For the duration of the COP26 jamboree while Nicola Surgeon was collecting selfies with Angela Merkel, Greta Thurnberg, geriatric Joe Biden, and any celebrity she could grab a handshake with, Highland Council, the UHI and and half a dozen others around here made it seem Net Zero was their ultimate priority above all else.

Personally, I looked on this askance. Warnings about upcoming soaring fuel bills facing pensioners in particular didn’t get a look in amid the Net Zero mania and it seemed making efforts to keep old people warm over the winter deserved at least as much priority as saving the planet by 2035.

A key component of all this greenery was a steadfast commitment to promoting “Active Travel”. Getting people out of cars and walking or more likely on to bikes.

As I don’t have a car and go everywhere by bike I’m all for this. But “Active Travel” in Inverness and everywhere else doesn’t come without risk.

It’s dangerous enough to cycle in Inverness, so I can’t imagine what it’s like in Edinburgh or Glasgow. I’m just glad I don’t have to do it.

Just about every bike user I’ve known has come off at some stage. It doesn’t matter if you have a shopping basket on the front, cycle at five miles an hour, are padded up like the Michelin Man, and have more lights than a Christmas tree. There is still a very obvious risk that you could at some stage have an accident, whether due to car, a pothole, a rut in the road or just because you momentarily lost concentration.

Down you go and when you hit the road you hit it hard and it doesn’t matter what speed you’re travelling at or the circumstances of your fall, it doesn’t make the road surface any bouncier.

You may be fortunate and get up and carry on. Or you may suffer an injury. It’s all a question of luck.

I certainly won’t labour my list of injuries acquired cycling around Inverness but the three breakages I’ve had over the years were a wrist, an elbow and a thumb. The elbow and the thumb weren’t too bad, but my wrist, as the surgeon who saw me described it, not mincing his words in a way that still sends a shiver up my spine, was “shattered”.

It was all in a day’s work for him but I do wish he’d been less explicit. “Badly damaged” would have been quite illustrative enough. However, at least he did a marvellous job at Raigmore the following day in pinning it back together again.

But this leads me to the point. After a grave announcement by Hate Crimes Humza Yousaf, the former Justice Secretary now decanted to being Health Secretary, that the NHS in Scotland faces it’s most difficult time ever over the next few weeks, the Glasgow Health Service issued a stunning instruction.

People who have suffered broken bones should NOT go to A and E.

That’s right, if you’ve been inspired by Queen Nicola and her Net Zero selfies to take up Active Travel and smash something up when you come off your bike and hit the ground in Govan, Accident and Emergency Departments are not the place for you.

Unless brain matter is oozing out of your head, go home and take an aspirin. And in agony book an appointment over the phone with the “minor injuries unit”. Which closes at 9pm. That is, if you’re able to lift a phone and talk coherently in the first place.

Everyone who has suffered a seriously broken bone or bones or fractures will be horrified by this. It is not something you “man up” and grit your teeth through. It may not be a blue flashing lights situation but you need to be treated by medical professionals, and amid the pain and trauma you need their help quickly.

When I went to Raigmore A and E with my “shattered” wrist in 2017, on September 10, a date I will not forget, having been driven up by a colleague after a driver stopped and took me the few hundred yards to work, I was seen by the medics within 15 minutes.

The prospect of going home and trying to book an appointment, tomorrow, the day after, next week maybe, was unthinkable.

This is what’s happening in Glasgow. It does NOT apply to NHS Highland, thank Almighty God.

Yousaf and his SNP Government will cite covid and staff shortages, not at all helped by Sturgeon and her “anything to to be different from England” 10 day self isolation rule, now changed at last, as the reason for this horrific breakdown in the most basic essential treatment.

They have missed target after target in their management failures over 14 years of the NHS.

But nothing will bring home that SNP failure more to the unfortunate people living in the staunch SNP heartland of Glasgow than the warning that they can’t go to A and E for treatment if they’ve broken a limb falling off a bike or falling down stairs.

This isn’t just “failure”. It’s a health service run by the SNP Government which is at a car crash level of incompetence and neglect.

And if I was down there Sturgeon’s Net Zero demand backed by weird little Green Patrick Harvie for more “Active Travel” would be the very last thing on my mind.

Let them badly bust a bone and have to book an appointment for treatment at some time with the “minor injuries” unit.

That’s something I’d almost bear having another sliver of metal inserted in my pinned up wrist to witness.

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