The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition)
Scottish Tories focus on roads and NHS backlog
The Scottish Conservatives are poised to unveil plans to spend £600 million on tackling the NHS treatment backlog and £200m on repairing potholes.
Party leader Douglas Ross was due to announce the additional health spending proposal on Monday, on top of a £2 billion investment outlined in its manifesto.
It is also understood that the Tories will say they would earmark £200m for a Road Maintenance Fund that would aim to help repair the nation’s crumbling roads.
In a speech launching the party’s manifesto today, Mr Ross will say that the £600m for health should be managed independently from government.
Instead, it would be led entirely by a taskforce of clinicians, to try to ensure those most in need get seen first.
The taskforce would have resources to make outpatient appointments and elective surgery available seven days a week.
The party’s manifesto will say that a top priority should be increasing the diagnostic workforce to help tackle the hidden backlog of people yet to be referred because of the pandemic.
And it will add that “a sustained and targeted campaign should be launched to encourage people who have been putting off visiting their GP to come forward, with a focus on preventing health inequalities worsening.”
Mr Ross said: “Our manifesto will have a laserfocus on Scotland’s recovery and what needs to happen to get the country back on track.
“Unlike the SNP, we are not setting out a fantasy wish list. Their manifesto could easily cost in excess of £100bn in a single year.
Our manifesto will have a laser-focus on Scotland’s recovery and what needs to happen to get the country back on track.”
“The Scottish Conservatives’ fully-costed manifesto will focus on what matters most – rebuilding our economy and our NHS after the Covid pandemic.
“Treatment times were already too long under the SNP and Covid has turned a problem into a crisis.
“If we don’t treat this crisis with the importance it deserves and tackle it as quickly as possible, the long-term health repercussions of missed early diagnosis and delayed operations will plague us for decades. It may require difficult choices and sacrifices in some other portfolios but we will be advocating for £600m of targeted support to tackle the treatment log-jam,” he continued
The manifesto will also outline proposals for a Road Maintenance Fund to repair potholes across the country.
Under the plans, councils would be able to apply for a share of the fund over the course of the next parliament.
Mr Ross said: “Drivers know how badly our local roads have deteriorated in recent years.
“The Scottish Conservatives have already set out plans to enshrine fair funding for councils in law.
“In our manifesto, we also outline how we would pass on increases in the Scottish Government’s capital budget to councils to deal with the backlog of road repairs.
“As we emerge from this pandemic, our focus will be on rebuilding communities across Scotland – not on another divisive and distracting referendum.”