Monday 1st September 2014
HONEST DEBATE NEEDED ON THE NHS
As the postal vote ballot papers drop through your letter box, many of you will let out a sigh of relief that the two year campaign is coming to an end, and the constitutional question that has dogged Scottish Politics will finally be settled.
If people vote ‘No thanks’, as I expect they will, the prize will be a return to normal politics in which we focus on the issues that are clearly important to the majority of Scots.
One such issue is our National Health Service, which has shamefully been used as a scare story in the last couple of weeks in order to deflect from the currency debate that has caused the ‘Yes’ campaign great difficulty by their failure to answer the most basic questions.
In light of all the scaremongering, I think it’s important that we lay out a few facts regarding the National Health Service. First, no political party, not even the Tories wants to privatise the NHS. Indeed, it would be political suicide for any political party in any part of the UK to do so.
Second, the NHS has been independent in Scotland for 15 years. And throughout this time, funding available to the NHS in Scotland has increased. It follows therefore, that the serious problems facing our NHS including bed blocking, missed A&E targets and failings in elderly care, are not simply a matter of finance. There are far more complex issues at hand here. Indeed, senior medical professionals have said so themselves.
We must be big enough to recognise the failings and have an honest debate about the challenges facing our NHS. I hope that politicians of all political colours come together on September 19th to ensure a bright future for our NHS for many years to come.