Protecting the NHS? The threat is Brexit. The solution is voting SNP

The NHS is under pressure across the UK and there is one major issue behind why it is facing such pressure – Brexit.

In the 2016 referendum the Leave campaign promised that Brexit would deliver £350 million per week for the NHS. They put it on the side of a bus.

Compare that promise to the headlines just over the past year on how Brexit has affected NHS:

Yes, it’s not a pretty picture. Brexit has been a disaster for the NHS regardless of which country it operates in the UK.

And Brexit is already undermining devolution which, we were told in the 1997 referendum, would protect Scotland’s NHS from unwanted policies by Westminster – particularly the Tories, who Scotland hasn’t voted for in almost a lifetime.

For example, the United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 sets out “market access” rules for goods and services, limiting the power of the Scottish Parliament to make distinctive policy for Scotland in devolved areas. It gives Westminster government ministers the powers to remove ”healthcare services” from an exemption list, without the consent of the Scottish Parliament.

And in January 2021 the Westminster Tory government blocked legislation that would have protected the NHS from future trade deals by ripping out NHS protections from their Trade Bill. Another example of Westminster riding roughshod over Scotland’s elected representatives. So much for the respect and equal partnership they promised in the 2014 independence referendum.

But it doesn’t end there. In July 2020 the Tory government blocked legislation that would have required the consent of devolved administrations for their health services to be included in any future trade deals 

You’d be forgiven for thinking that with Brexit having such a corrosive effect on the NHS that the Labour party would be desperate to reverse it.

Unfortunately, under Sir Keir Starmer, Labour is too scared of offending right-wing Brexiteers:

You might think recent events – with polls showing overwhelming majorities saying Brexit is a failure – would shake Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour into support for rejoining the EU.

But it is not to be, with his transport spokesperson recently giving a “cast-iron guarantee” that the Labour party will not take the UK back into the EU.

This even follows a recent article by the UK’s pre-eminent medical journal The Lancet, which says that Brexit’s “dampening effect” on “the economy indirectly affects population health through less funding for social and health services”; that “Brexit has made recruitment more difficult” within the NHS; and that “Brexit has been a failure from a health perspective” that “puts health in the UK in a precarious position”. 

And with Labour’s Scotland spokesperson indicating that Labour won’t reverse the Tories power grab on devolved powers, what could such interference in these powers mean for the NHS in Scotland?

Here’s some headlines to give you a flavour of what UK Labour’s health spokesperson plans for the NHS:

Yet we can already see what private outsourcing in England has already meant for the NHS:

And along with now supporting Tory Brexit, Tory private outsourcing in the NHS, they also copy Tory tax and spending plans.

In short, with Brexit already damaging the NHS, Labour offers no alternative to protecting Scotland’s NHS.

This can be seen with how Westminster parties don’t value free prescriptions in Scotland.

In England prescriptions cost £9.65 per visit. In Scotland they’re free. The SNP abolished this tax on ill health.

However, keeping free prescriptions protected in Scotland cannot be taken for granted.

Again, you would be forgiven for thinking Labour would protect free prescriptions but past and recent comments paint a different picture.

Every year since election to government, the SNP has shown its commitment to free prescriptions and abolished them. We value this policy.

However, since 2007, Scottish Labour had criticised the policy with a former Labour leader describing it as “something for nothing”, and their current health spokesperson even said they would bring back prescription charges.

Labour is taking Scotland for granted. They think you won’t notice their support for Brexit and how it is undermining the NHS, and that their attacks on free provision of medicine will also not be seen.

Brexit is damaging our NHS. The Tories imposed it and Labour now support it.

But there is a way to escape this threat to our NHS by Westminster parties wedded to Brexit.

A vote for the SNP is a vote for independence, and independence will give Scotland the power to reverse Brexit and rejoin the EU to protect the NHS.

If you value the NHS there’s only one party in Scotland to vote for to reverse Brexit and protect the NHS – the SNP.