SNP manifesto to pledge ‘major investment’ in NHS


Swinney to call for an “end to Westminster cuts” and urge the next government to increase NHS spending by a minimum of £10bn extra each year…reports Asian Lite News

The SNP is set to launch its manifesto with the spotlight on plans for a “major investment” in the NHS. Healthcare is a devolved issue in Scotland, meaning the Scottish government runs its own NHS.

However, the overall budget for it is decided by the UK government and the SNP has previously blamed this for limitations in the Scottish NHS.

At the manifesto launch in Stornoway on Wednesday morning, First Minister and SNP leader John Swinney will call for an “end to Westminster cuts” and urge the next UK government to increase NHS spending by a minimum of £10bn extra each year.

He will say that this will deliver a £1.6bn annual funding boost for the health service in Scotland. The party manifesto will also include plans for investment in other public services, the reversal of the “damaging failure of Brexit” and support for families during the cost of living crisis.

When nurses, paramedics and physiotherapists took industrial action in England, Northern Ireland and Wales, the Scottish government had already struck a deal costing £575m with unions that saw staff paid more than in other parts of the UK.

The SNP will urge the incoming UK government to invest at least another £6bn in the NHS to match Scotland’s most recent pay deals for healthcare staff.

The manifesto says the extra investment will deliver around £600m in consequentials which Scotland could invest in NHS staff numbers, pay and conditions.

This would achieve a total additional investment of £16bn for the NHS – with £1.6bn going to the health service in Scotland, the SNP say. Swinney is expected to claim that if Labour take power then they will continue with a “cuts agenda”.

Scottish Labour published its manifesto on Tuesday and pledged to cut NHS waiting times and fund 160,000 additional appointments every year in Scotland. The Scottish government makes decisions on its own healthcare system and decides how money is allocated within the NHS in Scotland.

However, most of the Scottish government’s money comes in the form of a UK Treasury block grant, drawing on tax revenue from across the UK. The amount of money which is sent north to Edinburgh is calculated using what is known as the Barnett formula.

When the UK government decides to spend more or less in England on things which are devolved to Scotland as well as Wales and Northern Ireland, like healthcare and education, the Barnett formula allocates a fixed proportion to the other three nations.

There are frequent disputes over the amount of money available to the Scottish government, resulting from decisions made at Westminster for England.

Swinney claims that the SNP is the only major party publishing a left-of-centre manifesto.

Ahead of the launch, the first minister said: “Fourteen years of Westminster cuts have had a devastating impact on funding for public services – and Labour are committed to continuing with the same cuts agenda as the Tories.

“The SNP manifesto will set out a different approach in line with Scotland’s centre-left values – with an end to Westminster cuts and a major new investment in our health service.”

He praised NHS staff as “heroes” during the pandemic but claimed the Conservative UK government had treated them with “complete contempt”, with junior doctors voting to strike over pay in the lead up to the election.

The first minister compared the situation to the pay dispute in Scotland last year, where the Scottish government managed to avoid similar action by “negotiating in good faith” to secure a pay deal for junior doctors and nurses.

“Rather than cosying up to the private sector, Keir Starmer and Wes Streeting would be better served getting round the table with NHS staff and delivering the fair pay rise they deserve,” he said.

“Labour need to explain why they think an experienced nurse in Liverpool should be paid £3,000 a year less than we pay a nurse in Livingston. The Westminster consensus between Labour and the Tories represents a clear and present danger to the future of the NHS.”

Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie responded by claiming the SNP have “sold off our country’s future with years of chaos and decline”.

She added: “On the SNP’s watch, the very future of our NHS is under threat with lives being lost due to A&E chaos and almost one in six Scots stuck on an NHS waiting list. The SNP has no vision and no credibility.”

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