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ELECTION 2021: Conservatives pledge £2 billion funding boost for Scottish NHS

By Alan Beresford

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WE are still in the middle of a global pandemic, writes the Conservative candidate for Banffshire and Buchan Coast Mark Findlater.

Banffshire and Buchan Coast Conservative candidate Mark Findlater at Chalmers Hospital in Banff.
Banffshire and Buchan Coast Conservative candidate Mark Findlater at Chalmers Hospital in Banff.

While the UK’s vaccine programme gives us hope of an end to Covid and a hard-won return for our freedoms, there are critical long-term issues facing Scotland’s NHS.

In this rural and coastal constituency, the centralisation of local healthcare must stop. Operation backlogs must be dealt with. And access to mental health support must improve.

The key to this is getting a fair share for our local NHS.

The SNP government underfunded NHS Grampian by £239 million in the decade before the pandemic, directly resulting in staff shortages, centralised services and major difficulties for health and social care.

We’ve all seen the results of these cuts over the years at minor injuries units like Chalmers, with hours cut and staff moved away from rural hospitals.

Patients are waiting even longer for vital treatment and our health board has warned the backlog will take years to clear. We have the money from the UK government to invest in staff, hospitals and care to boost their efforts. And so the Scottish Conservatives will inject £600 million worth of funding to specifically tackle this crisis.

We will also deliver £2 billion more funding for our NHS during the course of the next parliament, over and above this one-off injection. And 10 per cent of that money would be ring-fenced to deal with the mental health backlog that existed before Covid but has only widened because of it. That’s 10 times more than the SNP.

The Nationalists’ response to the coronavirus pandemic has been seriously flawed.

They sent over a hundred Covid-positive hospital patients to care homes at the beginning of the pandemic, and another 3061 weren’t tested at all before discharge. There have been more than 3000 care home deaths from coronavirus since last March. Testing capacity was underused and there were widespread shortages of PPE.

Before that, over 14 years in charge of health the SNP failed to cut waiting times or improve services. We need a Scottish Parliament that compels the government to put the health and wellbeing of its citizens first.

But the SNP want to hold another independence referendum within the recovery phase. If they win a majority, they’ll squander even more time on their obsession with referendums.

Only a vote for the Scottish Conservatives for Banffshire and Buchan Coast, and on your peach-coloured party list ballot, will deliver north-east MSPs 100 per cent focused on recovery.

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