NHS is sa­cred and needs pro­tec­tion

Rutherglen Reformer - - News From The Pews -

The last cou­ple of weeks have been in­cred­i­bly busy.

I’ve con­trib­uted to de­bates at West­min­ster on ev­ery­thing from the wel­fare of young dogs which are be­ing bred for sale to sup­port for our en­ergy-in­ten­sive in­dus­tries such as steel.

On Fri­day I was also hop­ing to de­liver a speech dur­ing the Na­tional Health Ser­vice Bill.

In­tro­duced as a pri­vate mem­ber’s bill by Green MP Caro­line Lu­cas, it seeks to re­in­state the NHS in Eng­land, re­vers­ing pri­vati­sa­tion to put it back into pub­lic hands.

The SNP have man­aged to pro­tect the NHS in Scot­land and, whilst this bill mostly wouldn’t ap­ply here, it was im­por­tant for me to be there in sol­i­dar­ity with those in Eng­land who are watch­ing their NHS be­ing dis­man­tled for com­mer­cial gain by the Tories.

Pri­vati­sa­tion of the NHS in Eng­land also poses a po­ten­tial fu­ture risk to our Scot­tish health ser­vice. If in fu­ture, as has been feared by some, Eng­land moves to­wards more of an in­sur­ance model of health cover this could have a di­rect neg­a­tive im­pact on our bud­get.

Un­for­tu­nately the Tories present on Fri­day were able to fil­i­buster the de­bate by speak­ing at length dur­ing the pre­vi­ous one. One Tory MP alone spoke for in ex­cess of 80 min­utes.

Whilst there were a hand­ful of Labour MPs present at the de­bate, they did not turn up in the num­bers needed to force the pre­vi­ous de­bate to close.

In the end the NHS Bill was only dis­cussed for around 20 min­utes then shelved. This makes a mock­ery of demo­cratic process.

Whilst the Tories are dis­man­tling the NHS in Eng­land, I’ve never been more proud of the Scot­tish Govern­ment’s man­age­ment.

At the SNP con­fer­ence last week­end Ni­cola Stur­geon sig­nalled her con­tin­ued ded­i­ca­tion to the health ser­vice.

She has promised that over the next par­lia­ment the NHS re­source bud­get will rise in real terms in each and ev­ery year.

There will be a new in­vest­ment of £200 mil­lion for five new elec­tive treat­ment cen­tres to de­liver hos­pi­tal care more quickly to those who need it.

And an ex­tra £50m in­vest­ment in ra­dio­ther­apy ser­vices will buy new, state-of-the-art equip­ment and em­ploy an ad­di­tional 100 ra­dio­ther­apy spe­cial­ists to work in our can­cer cen­tres.

While the SNP will con­tinue to hold dear the val­ues on which our NHS was founded, I will con­tinue to hold the Tories to ac­count on the record south of the bor­der.

By the time you read this Ge­orge Os­borne will likely have de­liv­ered his bud­get speech.

We’re call­ing for a freeze in fuel duty. It is wrong for him to hike the price at the pump at this time.

Peo­ple and the econ­omy have ben­e­fited from fall­ing petrol prices and he should recog­nise this rather than try­ing to cap­i­talise on it.

We’re also sup­port­ing the Scotch whisky in­dus­try in their calls for a very mod­est cut to ex­cise duty. Com­pa­nies like Spey­side Dis­tillers in Ruther­glen make an enor­mous con­tri­bu­tion to the econ­omy and the pub­lic purse.

It’s time for the Tory Chan­cel­lor to start recog­nis­ing that.

I’ve never been more proud of the Scot­tish Govern­ment’s man­age­ment

Pledge Ni­cola Stur­geon

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