Nearly every major milestone of social progress in our country was delivered by a Labour government – from the minimum wage to the creation of the Scottish Parliament, from the smoking ban to free personal care.

But our greatest achievement will always be our cherished National Health Service.

It is 69 years since Clement Attlee’s government created the NHS.

In 1948, in the aftermath of war and national bankruptcy, it was a Labour government who found the resources to provide universal healthcare for all on the basis of need, free at the point of use.

And, as we are all too often reminded by the actions of other political parties, it is only Labour who truly protect the NHS.

The Tories have consistently undermined our health service and have spent years fighting with junior doctors.

And the SNP’s running of our NHS in Scotland has been calamitous.

This week, Scottish Labour will expose the SNP’s mismanagement of our health service, and outline how we would do things differently.

Our amazing NHS staff and patients are feeling the consequences of the SNP’s decisions.

Nicola Sturgeon and her ministers have overseen a workforce crisis that has left staff overworked, undervalued, under-resourced and also underpaid.

This is now directly impacting on NHS services and patient care too.

Over recent weeks in particular we have seen hospital services being cut and wards being forced to close due to a shortage of staff.

Before an election, Nicola Sturgeon promises voters that NHS services won’t close – only to stand back as they face closure after polling day.

We revealed this week that 19 hospital services are now under threat.

Just one example of that is the chronic shortage of staff in our children’s wards being closed in Glasgow, Paisley and Livingston.

There are more than 1000 fewer nurses and midwives registering to work in Scotland than there were in 2014.

This is the legacy of Sturgeon’s time as Health Secretary, when she cut the number of training places available.

And today we reveal that spending on agency nurses has risen six-fold in just five years as a consequence.

The harsh reality is we have a government in Westminster who don’t care about our NHS and a government in Scotland more interested in running a referendum campaign than a health service.

Labour would do things differently.

We created the NHS and we will be the ones to save it.

In our manifesto, which inspired millions across Britain to come out and vote, we pledged to end the pay freeze on our hard-working nurses and NHS staff.

We would massively increase the funding available to our health service by making the richest in society pay their fair share.

And Scottish Labour are establishing a commission that will address the SNP’s staffing crisis in our NHS.

It is our driving ambition to restore the NHS to what it was originally intended to be – a health service for the many, not the few.

 

This article first appeared in the Daily Record newspaper on the 18th of July 2017

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