As First Minister, I am extremely proud of the SNP’s record in delivering for the North East of Scotland – not least on healthcare, which we have absolutely transformed since we came to power in 2007.
Despite big cuts to Scotland’s budget from Westminster, we’ve increased funding for NHS Grampian by £300 million – giving the North East over 50 per cent more in funding for health services than it received under Labour and Lib Dems. We have also ensured that the North East gets its fair share of the overall NHS budget – with 9.8 per cent of resources now going to Grampian, compared to 9.1 per cent under the previous Labour-led government.
We’re making significant investments in NHS infrastructure in the North East, including delivering the £110 million Emergency Care Centre so that people can get faster care when they need it. We will also rebuild the maternity hospital at Foresterhill, as part of a £100 million investment in a new family hospital.
When the SNP came to office in 2007 we inherited a real issue with access to NHS dentistry in the North East. That’s why we delivered the Aberdeen Dental Hospital, which has contributed to a 38.6 per cent increase in NHS dental registrations in Grampian since 2007.
While we are committed to real investment in the North East, Labour have spent the past weeks scaremongering over major trauma provision in Aberdeen. They are wrong on the facts and wrong to politick over such a serious issue. Let me be absolutely clear - Aberdeen Royal Infirmary will be a key part of Scotland’s major trauma network.
On top of that, we are committed to a new elective treatment centre in Aberdeen, part of a £200 million investment in five treatment centres across Scotland that will improve care for older people. Neither Labour nor the Tories have made any similar manifesto commitment.
But we’re not only investing in bricks and mortar – there are now more staff working in NHS Grampian than ever before with staff numbers up by 7.5 per cent with the SNP. We’ve increased the number of consultants in Grampian by 36.6 per cent and emergency medicine consultants by 110 per cent.
We’ve also grown the number of GPs working in Grampian by 9.6 per cent – that’s 50 more doctors in primary care across the region than under Labour and the Lib Dems. Over the next five years we will go further to ensure our NHS develops as a Community Health Service, including increasing the number of GP training places from 300 to 400 a year and investing £3 million to train an additional 500 advanced nurse practitioners.
If people across Scotland choose to re-elect me as their First Minister on Thursday, an SNP government will make a record investment in our National Health Service of £500 million above inflation by the end of the next parliament – an overall increase in investment of £2 billion.
No other party in this election – despite their repeated complaints about NHS funding in recent years – is matching our ambition. Labour aren’t even willing to pass on the funding to Grampian which comes by default from changes to NHS spending in England. In fact, under Labour’s plans this will result in around £800 million less being invested in the NHS across Scotland.
Our health service is our most cherished public service and in Grampian it has gone from strength to strength under the SNP. Only with a re-elected SNP government will be ambitious for our NHS, giving it the resources it needs now and making it fit for the future.