I am committed to upholding the NHS’s founding principles as a universal healthcare system provided free at the point of use: a comprehensive, integrated and public NHS that is there for all of us when we need it. I also want an NHS that is free of privatisation.
I therefore share your concerns about the sustained underfunding and privatisation of our NHS. As health is devolved, NHS is the responsibility of the Scottish Government.
At present, I am concerned Scotland’s NHS is at breaking point. We have an NHS workforce that is overworked, under pressure, under-resourced and underpaid. There are too few nurses, GP practices are closing, consultant vacancies are unfilled, cancer patients are being failed, services are being cut and patient care is being put at risk while private agency spending has skyrocketed under the Scottish Government.
That is why I support the NHS Workforce Commission – established by my colleagues in the Scottish Parliament – to find solutions to the chronic shortage of NHS and social care staff across the sector. The Commission aims to develop a clear and ambitious workforce plan to help build staff morale and deliver a Scottish NHS and social care system fit for the 21st century.
I also support the introduction of a 10-point prescription plan that would transform our NHS in Scotland and ensure it is there for everyone who needs it. This would include measures such as introducing a meaningful pay increase and a return to collective bargaining; a cancer diagnosis within 2 weeks; access to vital lifesaving medicines; and imposing a cap on what private agencies can charge for a single shift to reduce agency spending. Only a radical and bold plan such as this would ensure the NHS in Scotland is fit for the future.
As we celebrate 70 years of the NHS, I can assure you that I will continue to press for the investment that is needed in the NHS – in Scotland and across the UK – to give patients the modern, well-resourced services they need for the 21st century.