Why it falls to Labour to stand up for our health service

Anas Sarwar, Scottish Labour’s Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, is calling on Scottish Labour members to come out this weekend to campaign in support of our NHS.

The NHS is a public service unlike any other. For those of who do not work for it we associate it with profound emotions. The joy of the birth of a child, the sorrow at the passing  of a relative.
In our divided society the NHS unites us. When Donald Trump dared criticise it a few weeks ago politicians from all parties united in opposition to him.
It’s a service there for us in times of need – and now it needs us.
A decade of mismanagement and austerity has starved the health service of the support it needs.  NHS staff are over worked, undervalued and underpaid.
As a result, patients aren’t getting the care they need. A&E waiting times for the winter are some of the worst on record. 2017 saw over 100,000 patients wait more than four hours at A&E. Almost 7,000 planned operations were cancelled last year alone because our hospitals couldn’t cope with demand.
A Labour government would end the austerity and tackle the poverty that piles the pressure on our NHS – but this just isn’t about money. It’s about having a plan for NHS and a blueprint to make it fit for the 21st century.
The all-round health service is not getting the support it needs – be it through public health, primary care or social care. Better support for our health service in these key areas will reduce the pressure on our waiting rooms.
But instead, under the SNP, our hospitals don’t have enough doctors and nurses, and they haven’t had enough time off or money in their pay packets.
The lack of nurses can be trace back to the years of SNP pay restraint and the decision to cut training places made by Nicola Sturgeon was Health Secretary.
Likewise, the £1.5 billion cut from our councils since 2011 means chronic pressure on social care. That’s why thousands of patients become delayed discharge cases – medically fit to leave hospital but all too often unable to because a care package isn’t ready.
Labour would do things differently. Our alternative tax and spending plans would mean additional funding for our NHS and a stop to council cuts.
But we wouldn’t stop there – we know that we must solve the staffing crisis. I have established a workforce commission to examine the gaps across our health service, work with experts on a blueprint for how we fill those posts.
Scotland has faced a series of referendums in recent years, but such is the importance of our health service to each and every one of us the NHS ended up in the middle of both of them. Before it was it was slapped on the side of Boris’ big red Brexit bus it was on SNP leaflets, claiming that only independence would stop the health service being privatised.
Our health service has been the subject of outrageous promises and blatant falsehoods.
The NHS can’t be separated from politics – It is politicians who take the decisions on how our health service runs, what funding it receives, and as we have seen only recently which valued services are retained and which are closed.
But we should never forget it was political will that delivered our health service. Without politics – Labour politics – we as a society would never have had our NHS.
It remains Labour’s greatest achievement.
That’s why this weekend Labour activists will be out across Scotland, standing up for our health service, outlining a positive alternative and making it clear that the constant pressure on our hospitals has to stop.
Agree? Then come join us this weekend and sign up here: https://events.labour.org.uk/

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4 thoughts on “Why it falls to Labour to stand up for our health service

  1. “Our health service has been the subject of outrageous promises and blatant falsehoods.”

    Well said Anas – I don’t think I’ve read so many outrageous promises and falsehoods about our health service…. well, since reading your article above.

  2. I read this article with increasing exasperation. Yes, the NHS is under pressure. And yes, austerity has had a lot to do with that. But no, there are not too few nurses and doctors. There are plenty of them. Far more than there were 10 years ago. It is just that far too many of them are tied up in management roles, unnecessary meetings (see previous issue), instigating never-ending change (see previous two issues) and implementing ever more ridiculous regulation that has more to do with ambulance chasing lawyers and job creation for Quangos and private sector “partners” than improving health care. Even more staff are taken out of front line care positions to collect data and compile statistics for politicians to spin to their own advantage (and opposition parties are keener on this waste of resources than the Govt). All of which is demoralizing staff.

    The Scottish Govt, as far as I’m concerned, has largely played a blinder in trying to mitigate Westminster enforced austerity while actually delivering a far better service than the shambles elsewhere in the UK (including Labour controlled Wales). Where they can be said to have “failed” is in not addressing the issues I listed above. But then, how could they? If they tried, they would be eviscerated by opposition politicians and their tame media alike. If Labour some how con enough people into believing they will “fix” the NHS, they will find themselves in the self same position. Frankly, given past evidence, I don’t believe they have either the policies, ideas or will to tackle it. As in the past, they will ditch all the promises made prior to an election, do the bare minimum they think they can get away with and try to align the Scottish NHS with England in order to safe-guard the Union.

    The Tories introduced the cancer of managerialism into the NHS in the 80s and 90s. Labour expanded it in the 90s and 00s while, disappointingly (but given the political landscape, understandably) the SNP have done nothing to rectify it. I see nothing in what Anas Sarwar says here that says Labour will fix it. Money is far from being the sole answer. Pay is not as bad as is often made out (pretty average really) but conditions are. Taking nursing and medical staff out of managerial roles/tasks, scrapping ridiculous over-regulation and putting less emphasis on stat gathering will go a long way to addressing that. And when conditions improve, the job becomes more enjoyable and therefore attractive. When that happens, recruitment becomes a dawdle and many of those who have left the service will actively consider returning. All of which is GOOD for patients.

    Rambling rant over, back to watching the rugby.

  3. I agree with everything you say a blog like yours has been a long time coming .
    I have said for a long time the NHS is the next scandal waiting to happen and its here.
    In 2014 I took ill at home I phoned for an ambulance because I could not reach the door the police had to force it to allow the ambulance crew to get to me .
    That night I nearly died it was a Greek Locum and her team who got me through the night in CrossHouse Hospital.
    High Dependency ward . I knew nothing about what was going on I have no memory of what went on between 8pm and 2am.
    The next day I was told by other patients I had been better than Jeremy Kyle .I was in there for 3 weeks.
    I had to take an ill health retirement package .
    In August that year I was a patient in Gartnavel Hospital in 2015 I was a patient in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Glasgow .
    I have had numerous outpatient appointments and home visits from GPS and nurses .
    I have also made numerous visits to the doctors surgery .
    I have had great treatment from NHS professionals from all over the world .
    We cant do without them as I fear we are about to find out thanks to brexit.
    I include my thanks to all staff from patient transport staff to clerical staff and cleaning staff
    And the robot cleaner that provided hours of entertainment to us patients in the Queen Elizabeth as we watched visitors trying to get out of its way .
    Last year in the summer I got a virus and had to attend the surgery every week for 7 weeks it was packed appointments were running late .
    The chemist located within the same building was that busy they had to lock the internal door leading from the surgery to the chemist . To prevent more patients getting in .Although the front door was open .
    In October I attended the public meeting of the Ayrshire and Arran Health Board Review .Shona Robison MSP was in the chair.
    There is an audio recording of the meeting on the health board website .The meeting was at Crosshouse Hospital
    We were told that the board had made 25 and a half million in savings .
    We were told the board were having difficulty in recruiting .
    We were told there are shortages of key staff in Crosshouse and Ayr Hospitals
    A shortage of radiologists doctors nurses dentists pharmacists .
    In November I got the virus back this time I had to get the GP in .
    The surgery operates the triage system . If you need an appointment or visit you give the receptionist brief details and a GP will phone you .
    The GP phoned asked me if I could attend said no asked me if someone could bring me to the surgery said no
    Asked me if I could get a taxi . Said no.
    When the GP came I asked what had happened .He said 2 GPS had left the Surgery and another had phoned in Sick that morning and the surgery was struggling to cope with the caseload.
    I was told I was to go for a non urgent chest x ray.
    Went for it in January to Crosshouse Hospital.
    The Hospital admission area every seat taken .Audiology waiting area every seat taken radiology waiting area every seat taken .
    NHS staff waiting in the corridor for patients being brought in .
    All the seats were taken because they needed some where for patients to wait until they could be seen
    NHS staff work there socks of for us . Double their wages .
    I should say at the October health review meeting a staff member from Spain .
    Told us he had worked in Crosshouse for 3 and a half years but after brexit he did not know if he would be allowed to stay.
    I believe we should take the NHS out of politics set up a commission that will do some urgent long term planning and we will have to fund it as well
    To our politicians want to see Scotlands problems do what I have to do get on a bus .
    You will see wheel chairs v prams .
    Mums with kids . pensioners and people with disabilities trying to cope .
    And do what I do listen to what people are saying .
    Just maybe you will understand the problems people are facing .
    And that bus you might have a wait due to roadworks but that is another comment on another blog

  4. The first competitor in the “fantasy spin” Olympics’ is Anas Sarwar .

    Anas’s first program will consist of spin , half-truths , deception and downright bolloxs about Scotland’s NHS, followed by a sideswipe of fantasy about labour heroics.

    and he starts :- please read above article.

    Oh and its a disappointing result as Scotland’s public totally disregard such a old worn out piece of rubbish.

    The judges vote is : same old – same old – same old – same old.

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