Time for a public debate on our NHS

8th June, 2014

Time for a public debate on our NHS

“Without change now, we’re putting at risk the sustainability of our National Health Service”.

These are not the words of a politician, but those issued last week by a leading medical professional Theresa Fyffe, Director of the Royal College of Nursing Scotland.

We are all committed to an NHS that is free at the point of need. However, every day we are witnessing the huge strain it is under as demand grows and funding struggles to keep up.

Indeed, we only have to look at Inverclyde Royal Hospital to see this. During the winter period for example, there were times when a number of the wards were operating at 100% capacity, well above the level deemed to be safe by experts.

Furthermore, my recent freedom of information request revealed that between Jan 2014 and March 2015 over 1,000 patients were moved wards to relieve pressure on the hospital.

Theresa Fyffe also said last week, “tinkering around the edges and simply putting more and more money into the current system is not the answer”.

It’s clear a fundamental rethink is required about what our priorities are for our NHS and the way in which we deliver health services.

And while it’s important that the medical professionals and politicians debate these issues, it’s even more important that the public who rely on the NHS everyday have their say too.

Yesterday I tabled a motion in Parliament (copied in below) noting the calls made by the Royal College of Nursing and also the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and Faculties in Scotland, for a public debate. The motion has now received cross-party support.


Motion Title: NHS Scotland: Time for a Public Debate

That the Parliament notes the joint call by the Royal College of Nursing and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and Faculties in Scotland for a public debate on what are considered to be the difficult decisions that need to be made about future investment in Scotland’s NHS; believes this to be a measured and considered approach that could kick start changes to the way the NHS provides services; considers that, while the NHS budget is protected and, in recent years, the number of staff employed by the NHS has increased, demand for care from Scotland’s growing and older population has increased in places such as Greenock and Inverclyde, and notes the joint call for a mature debate involving the public, health and care professionals and MSPs from all political parties so that there is a consensual approach to future changes to Scotland’s beloved NHS to ensure that it does not only survive but evolves to meet the future needs of the people of Scotland.

Supported by: Stuart McMillan*, Dennis Robertson*, Jim Hume*, Tavish Scott*, Lewis Macdonald*, Elaine Smith*, Graeme Pearson*, Elaine Murray*, Jackson Carlaw*, Jackie Baillie*, Richard Simpson*, Johann Lamont*, Jayne Baxter*, Cara Hilton*, Neil Findlay*, John Pentland*, Margaret McDougall*, Malcolm Chisholm*, Hanzala Malik*, Patricia Ferguson*, David Stewart*, Hugh Henry*, Michael McMahon*