Healthcare is a devolved matter here in Scotland, and so responsibility for NHS Scotland rests with the Scottish Government. I am pleased that the UK Government has worked to ensure that NHS Scotland is properly funded, by increasing overall funding for the Scottish Government by £2 billion in last year’s budget.
The Scottish Government will also receive an additional £2 billion per year by 2023 as a consequence of the UK Government’s announcement of an extra £384 million per week for the NHS. It is up to the Scottish Government whether to spend this extra funding on the NHS or allocate it elsewhere, and I and my Scottish Conservative colleagues have called on Nicola Sturgeon to confirm that all of this UK Government cash injection will go to NHS Scotland.
Unfortunately, it has become increasingly clear that the NHS is simply not at the top of the SNP’s list of priorities. Between 2012/13 and 2016/17, the Scottish Government increased health spending by just 5%, compared to an 8% increase in England.
This, combined with the Scottish Government’s high-tax policies and their artificial cap on the number of medical students, have led to a failure to attract enough talented doctors and nurses to Scotland, causing a grave NHS staffing shortage that has stretched hard-working NHS staff to breaking point, and cost NHS Scotland millions of pounds in overtime and locum staff payments.
It is, sadly, no surprise that despite the best efforts of Scottish NHS staff, NHS Scotland is consistently failing to achieve its waiting time targets for A&E, cancer treatment, and mental health treatment.
My Scottish Conservative colleagues in Holyrood are holding the SNP to account on their mismanagement of Scottish healthcare, and have developed a 15-point plan, which I fully support, to reform NHS Scotland’s structures and finances to improve efficiency, boost staff morale, and end the staffing shortage.
The Scottish Government has the power to improve the state of Scotland’s NHS, and if the SNP won’t do it, then Ruth Davidson and the Scottish Conservatives will after the 2021 elections.