The Scottish Nationalist Health Service

Jim O’Neill shares his personal experience of our overstretched “NHSNP”, and says people have the chance this week to vote for a real progressive alternative for the whole of the UK.


In February, after x-rays, I was diagnosed as needing at least one new knee. I was referred to the “knee pathway” with advice from my GP that the guarantee was a new knee within 12 weeks. Having heard nothing since then, I contacted my practice this week for an update. I was shocked to be told that the minimum waiting time was now 41 weeks, but it may take over a year to join the pathway, that is to get a first meeting with a surgeon. So much for Nicola Sturgeon’s much lauded guarantee of 12 weeks.

There is, of course, a further side effect to this situation. I am walking with a stick, and the way I am walking is beginning to create pain in my opposite hip. I am also using painkillers every day to get by. Both of these have the potential to add costs to the eventual bill. And clearly I am not the only one. The figure of 41 weeks has not developed magically. Thousands of people are waiting in pain for these operations which are putting their lives on hold.

This failure is not the only one. Both in primary and secondary care, failures are being recorded weekly. The A&E target was missed again last week, as it has been consistently for years. We were told that one in four GP practices have gaps in their GP staffing. They have even taken to “speed-dating” events, as reported by Reporting Scotland, to try to attract any available GPs into their surgeries. And these failures are not only happening in our new shiny Scottish Nationalist Health Service (prop. Sturgeon and Robinson), which has failed consistently to predict and plan for staffing need. Remember, it was Nicola Sturgeon, as Health Secretary, who cut nurse recruitment.

A similar failure has also been shown in teacher recruitment, where in 2011, the SNP government massively cut teacher recruitment on the back of a one-year surplus of staff. Many years ago, I made representations annually to the Scottish Education Department planning body on teacher recruitment on behalf of my union. It is not really rocket science. The Education Department, even allowing for some losses and change in numbers, has five years advance notice of the number of children in primary schools and TWELVE years notice of the number of pupils in secondary schools. So how have Ministers so consistently got the number of teachers needed so wrong so often?

These are the people who are now bidding for our vote to send SNP candidates back to Westminster on the basis of a promise of taking part in a progressive alliance to turf out the Tories. By their own incompetence shall ye know them!

Unsurprisingly, the last manifesto purporting to cover the whole of the UK to be launched was that of the SNP, maybe because they realised, like everyone else, that it was irrelevant to the outcome of this election. So, what did it contain? A massive boost for public services to be paid for by a 50% tax rate, a proposal that they have already rejected seven times in Scotland. Anti-austerity in public services but no indication that they would remove the wage cap on public services, or reverse the cuts in the numbers of public servants. A minimum wage of £10 per hour, which they have already rejected imposing on contractors in the public sector in Scotland, where they have the power to do so. And a cut in National Insurance for employers while not increasing their Corporation Tax.

What is progressive about any of this? It is nothing more than dishonest and their proposals for paying for all of this add up even less than the shambles presided over by the Tories, an assessment made by most commentators. There is a clear discontinuity between what they are proposing for the United Kingdom and what they are proposing for Scotland. They cannot have it both ways. Either they support a 50p level of tax or they don’t. Either they support paying for better public services or they don’t. If it is the former, let us see them bringing these policies into effect in Scotland, before pontificating on what should happen throughout the rest of the UK.

They think that all this dissembling should bring them a seat at the Brexit negotiations. As always, they are retreating into their own little tartan-coloured fantasy world where everything will turn out well when the Scots vote for independence at (probably) the fifth time of asking.

The Nationalist manifesto shows even more clearly how irrelevant they are to this Westminster election. It is a choice between Labour and Tory, between Corbyn and May, between progressive policies and a retreat into Little England (and Little Scotland). This week, it is time to make your choice.

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21 thoughts on “The Scottish Nationalist Health Service

  1. Its a shame you didn’t think to get your mental health checked while you were at it Jim Bob.
    I don’t believe a word of that spew Jim Bob. I think you have private health insurance and have had for a while.
    You just made all that up as you usually do.

    1. With a reply like that you really are an idiot Mike.
      He is describing what is happening to him. Maybe you would like to take the chance without using your usual language what Jim should do and how the Scottish Government and NHS can remedy the situation

    2. I try not to reply to your spew, Mike, but for the record, I have no private health insurance and I never will, and if you don’t believe me, check with Ayrshire and Arran. Or you could stay in your fantasy Nat world. I now return to my previous position where I ignore your fantastical crap

  2. Less than two days of campaigning left. And this is the first thing this site publishes after more than two weeks of nothing.

    Very disappointing.

    1. …worth it alone to prevent giving occasion to the appalling nonsense spouted by separatist secessionist trolls…given everyone was out doing the doors whilst the evangelical fundamentalist zealots are anonymously parked in their darkened solitary chambers looking for someone to stalk electronically…

      I suppose it actually beats socialisation…but don’t despair – you will eventually evolve and develop the skills to interact with others civilly…someday…I would hope…

  3. I have asked you this question before, and you conveniently didn’t answer, where is the money going to come from to pay for a greater than 1% pay increase to nurses and all public sector workers? Labours proposed 1p on the basic rate of income tax won’t cover it, so what do you propose to cut to fund the shortfall?

    Will you answer it this time?

    Labour are very good it criticising the Scottish Government, but very poor at providing answers as to how they would do things differently. When you see how bad the NHS is in England, the SNP have done a pretty good job at protecting Scotland from the worst of the Tories austerity measures. I would really like to see some credible plans from Labour detailing how they would do the same, but I suspect they don’t have any and just resort to their usual tactics of “SNP BAD” to hide that fact.

    1. Yes, of course. see our Manifesto. 50% tax on the wealthy, increase in Corporation tax and, if necessary, prudential borrowing. I think they are worth that

  4. A whole lot of negativity here. I had a knee replacement in 2014, after 25 years in the mining industry had taken its toll. It looks to me as if Mr O’Neil could loose a few pounds and take the “weight” off his knee until a replacement is found for him. My operation was done fairly quickly as i was happy to take a cancellation ( 24 hours notice), but this wouldnt suit everyone. Perhaps Mr O’Neil should go and try the Welsh NHS, where Labour run affairs.
    I have nothing but praise for the staff at Ayr, who couldnt do enough for patients.
    Increase in taxation. Why did Scottish Labour never increase taxation when in power in Holyrood? Possibly for the same reasons as Gordon Brown repeatedly reducing Corporation Tax—-a big No NO when anyone else proposes it.
    This election is between May and Corbyn. We only need to watch the BBC for 5 minutes to realise that.
    But why would anyone in Scotland vote for Scottish Labour, a party whose leadership and sole MP( and all the ex-MP’s), have made their negative feelings for Corbyn very clear?

    1. The point is Gavin it has not happened for him. He is only reporting what has happened to him and others

    2. I have never criticised the staff in A&A NHS. As UNISON says, Lions led by donkeys. Thirteen Nat seats won by Tories. Without them, May would have the removal vans at the back of NO 10 right now, instead of making a deal with the Orange Party. And yes, Gordon was wrong reducing Corporation Tax.

  5. Clearly, you have been unlucky Jim. My wife is about to go in for a knee replacement at Raigmore. which incidentally has the best post-operative infection record in the entire UK. Her operation has run according to the programme and we both can speak of the efficiency and effectiveness of the SNHS, after I broke both legs in 2015.

    So well done to the staff and the Scottish Government for putting the policies in place to enable us to be the high achievers in the UK

    1. A&A has the worst times in Scotland, and also among the worst crisis in Primary Care ( See the notices all over my practice). But when I raised it with my MP and MSP at the LA Count, they just laughed. And one an ex, and currently locum, consultant surgeon at Crosshouse Hospital

  6. I have s sense of deja vu about this article. Has Jim not written something similar …. many times before? Still lacking answers though.

  7. When it comes to independence maybe you should ask your branch office boss what scottish labours actual position is ???

    Then half/hour later ask again ??

    Keep repeating the above !

  8. I had to go to a Glasgow hospital for a respiratory clinic appointment on Tuesday. I went and came back using Patient Transport. When I got there I found the most clinics were running late .Staff trying to cope with the workload. Patients after their appointments having to wait for 2 hours plus for Patient Transport home.
    Glasgow based patients were told they were facing the longest wait .We were all told the waiting room we were in would close at 430pm. We would then move to the foyer area to wait.
    I only had to wait for an hour for my transport which was coming with a patient from another hospital I had no problem with that.
    I left at 4 10pm . There were still 3 Glasgow based patients waiting to go . All had been waiting in good spirits for over 2 hrs.
    The staff were brilliant they kept us up to date with info plenty of tea coffee which we did not pay for. Other patients told me this is an everyday occurrence.
    My Consultant was at another Hospital staff consulted him by phone. I got a good report . Again other patients told me this is the norm.
    I phoned my GP today was told the triage system is in operation GP will phone back to speak to you and decide if you really need an appointment. This is because my surgery cant cope with the daily workload they admit that.
    If you are my surgery and then take a prescription next door to the chemist you often get 2 ques 1 using the internal door from the surgery and 1 from the front door .
    The chemist cant cope either.
    Before anyone says this is another SNP rant which its not. I spoke to my SNP MSP when I saw her campaigning today.
    I told her Scotland is ill and the NHS is struggling to cope she agreed we left it at that

  9. The health service in Scotland has not been described as being like that of a third world country, as the N.H.S. in England. Stick with Brexit Britain, Jim, and we won’t have an N.H.S. of any description. When the U.K. becomes a low wage, low service, low tax economy of the Hong Kong/Singapore model dependent on fiscal transfers from a non existent financial industry, you can kiss it goodbye.

  10. I’ll share my personal experience of the Scottish NHS.
    On May 4th I stumbled and fell while crossing a road in Blantyre . I was in considerable pain so the next day
    I went to the A&E department of Hairmyres Hospital. Having heard the Labour and Conservative horror stories
    about the state of our NHS I was pleasantly surprised to have to wait no longer than 15 minutes to be seen
    by a doctor. Within an hour I’d had an X-Ray, which showed I had fractured my wrist, had a blood test and an ECG. During the time it took to have my arm put in a plaster cast I was given advice on how to deal with the the
    injury by another doctor, supplied with painkillers and helpful advisory leaflets and told to come back
    the next week to have an operation to insert plates in my wrist. Total time involved was about 3 hours.

    Had the operation on the morning of May 11th, had a fresh lighter-weight cast applied and a supply of more painkillers. i was back home that afternoon with a follow up appointment scheduled for two weeks later to check

    Fracturing my wrist was not a pleasant experience but it would have been a lot worse if not for the excellent
    care I received from all the staff at Hairmyres. Be grateful for the Scottish NHS – I’m just glad I was dealing
    with them not the NHS in England.

    1. Why would you say a thing like that Alan when he is only describing what happened to him. When I told my MSP what happened to me and other patients who were waiting for patient transport at a Glasgow Hospital on Tuesday for transport
      She stood there with nothing to say. The Glasgow patients had to wait over 3 hours. The staff were great nobody had any criticism of them . They kept us supplied with tea and coffee.
      When I told my MSP I was not making a political point. She just said nothing did not answer.
      I don’t use the NHS as a political football in fact I would like to see politics taken out of it
      So Alan here is a challenge no politics whats your solution

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