Our National Health Service is a core part of our national identity. It is revered by countries the world over and we should be immensely proud of the work that goes on every day to provide free healthcare at the point of need.
As a registered nurse, I have worked with and witnessed the efforts of our healthcare professionals for over 30 years. Though they are immensely resilient, the coronavirus pandemic put immense pressure on NHS staff and services, and Tory austerity and Brexit are causing innumerable problems.
As a result, while our health service recovers it is also grappling with substantial workforce shortages – there are currently 5,500 nursing and midwifery vacancies in Scotland.
This is a daunting task, but our NHS always endures.
This is in no small part because the SNP Scottish Government – contrary to claims from opposition parties and some of the media – ensures that Scotland’s NHS is the best funded in the UK.
Independent research from the SNP Rebuttal Unit shows that in Scotland, the SNP in Government spends £3,377 on front line health per person, which is 10.6% (£323) more per head than spend by the Tory UK Government in England and 2.2% (£74) higher than the Labour Government in Wales.
Proportionally, this means that the SNP Scottish Government spends almost £1.8 billion more on frontline health services compared to England, and almost £405 million more compared to Wales.
The SNP in Government has also delivered free prescriptions, eye tests and personal care for older people.
These are the facts, and they demonstrate that we will always invest in the wellbeing of everyone in Scotland and will do everything we can to preserve the NHS as an entirely public service.
The SNP are determined to deliver an NHS that works for everyone, recently announcing £300 million of funding to reduce waiting lists by an estimated 100,000 by 2026, but we are acting with one hand tied behind our back.
At Westminster, the Tories have always wanted to privatise the NHS, and we now have a Labour Party which refuses to commit to increased funding, supports more outsourcing and backs Brexit.
There is so much more we could and should be doing, but we need the full powers of an independent nation to do so.
An independent Scotland would be free from harmful Westminster policies, able to build a fairer and wealthier country, and put the core principle of the NHS – free healthcare at the point of need – front and centre.
That is why the SNP is the only party of Government that can be trusted to protect our NHS.
Produced by the SNP’s Research and Rebuttal Unit.