Vote YES to save our NHS
Bob Doris MSP has urged Rutherglen and Cambuslang residents to vote Yes to defend the NHS
As deputy convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Health Committee, I know very well the pressures faced by staff in our NHS. There are more doctors and nurses than before but with an ageing population pressure continue to grow despite the Scottish Government ensuring a real term budget increase and rejecting plans for privatisation of NHS services unlike England.
Whilst prescriptions are free in Scotland, the ill in England are taxed over £8 each on every item and every time they need medicine.
However Scotland’s NHS is not immune from Westminster’s privatisation agenda. The way Scotland is funded under devolution puts our NHS directly in the firing line.
The new UK Health Act is estimated to ‘save’ the English NHS £1billion a yyear as it opens their NHS to privatisation (UK Government figures, g not my own). That means between now and 2020, £600m will be cut from Scotland’s budget. That’s the problem.
Every time a right-wing UK Government decides to cut cash south of the border, the Barnett Formula dictates that Scotland’s budget gets slashed. As the English NHS is ripped apart to accommodate private interests, less money comes to Scotland. That puts Scotland’s NHS directly at risk if we remain tied to Westminster with its unhealthy obsession to cut public expenditure and extend privatisation.
Don’t just take my word for it - Andy Burnham, Labour’s UK health spokesperson agrees.
He said: “NHS privatisation is now proceeding at pace and scale as commissioners are forced to put services out to the market.”
Labour’s Welsh Assembly Health Minister Mark Drakeford said: “The fundamental issue… is the impact on public services in Wales of the cuts being made by administration in Westminster, and passed down to Wales.”
Indeed, Scottish Labour in 2010 agreed as they argued that the Tory agenda would: “slash funding for schools and hospitals.”
Yet today Labour are campaigning in Scotland joined at the hip with the Tories as part of the No campaign. English and Welsh Labour don’t believe the NHS is safe, and Scottish Labour didn’t at the last UK election. To claim that devolution can protect Scotland’s NHS from Westminster cuts is fundamentally deceitful and is to ignore the limitations of devolution.
Contrast the looming threat to Scotland’s NHS with a No vote with the positive outlook of an Independent Scotland. The Scottish Government has pledged to increase public expenditure by three per cent after independence to protect public services, help the most vulnerable and boost our economy.
We are in a strong financial position to do so with Scotland contributing £8.3billion more to the UK than we got back in the last five years. We can use Scotland’s resources to meet Scotland’s priorities.
It’s not just £600million cuts heading to the NHS with a No vote. All UK parties have signed up to an additional £25billion cuts. They have agreed that Scotland should be disproportionately targeted.
The UK All Party Group on tax demanded a “hefty cull” of Scotland’s budget and suggested that could be £4billion. It is increasingly clear that if we want Scotland’s Parliament to be able to continue to fully support good quality, publically funded services, only a Yes vote can secure that.
When voters go to the polls on September 18, I firmly believe that one reason to vote Yes is to defend our NHS.”
Taking to the streets Local Yes supporters campaigning in Cambuslang