Today marks exactly one week until the Scottish General Election and so, as a kind of week-long round up, I am going to be posting a reason each day as to why, on the 5th of May, you should vote for the SNP. I’ll be basing these articles on the SNP’s record in Government as opposed to the mud-slinging used by the other parties, to give a clear idea of why the SNP really is the best party to lead Scotland forward through an historic third term in office.
The first reason I’ll be voting SNP next week is for a Healthier Scotland. The NHS is, quite rightly, our most beloved and valuable public service and, for all we might sometimes complain about it, our healthcare system is seen as one of the best in the world. It is, therefore, right that we fight for this service to make sure that it is always free at the point of use.
The first, and perhaps most logical place, to look is the hospitals themselves; with staffing up by 11’200 under the current government to record levels, it’s no wonder that Scotland has the best performing Accident and Emergency departments in the UK. More than £5 billion has been invested into our hospital infrastructure, including the Glasgow South Hospitals and the Emergency Care Centre in Aberdeen; at the same time as we have seen hospital carpark charges, saving patients, staff and visitors £25 million.
With pay rises to NHS staff, our nurses are over £700 a year better off than their counterparts elsewhere in the UK.
We have also seen our hospitals becoming cleaner and safer than ever before, with hospital bugs such as C.Diff. and MRSA falling to some of the lowest levels on record. Our cleaner hospitals mean that our patients and staff are safer and that we are spending less time and money treating such preventable illnesses, freeing up beds for other patients.
In prevention we have seen a crackdown on the availability of alcohol and tobacco to young people and restrictions to help curb excessive use. The SNP raised the age at which tobacco can be bought from 16 to 18 years of age, preventing more young people from taking up the habit.
The selling of alcohol at discounted rates or in deals has been banned in Scotland too, making it harder to get cheap alcohol, in turn cutting the number of hospital admissions through alcohol related incidents.
In 98% of our primary and secondary schools, children are getting two hours of physical education, up from just 10% in 2005. The use of PE to promote a healthy and active lifestyle is helping to combat the childhood obesity problem faced in our modern society, helping to keep the next generations fit and healthy.
The Scottish Government has also invested almost £40 million into public cancer awareness programmes, helping people to catch it earlier. With early diagnoses of a wide range of cancers, we are helping to continually improve survival rates. The risk of cervical cancer in Scotland’s younger generations is also being cut, thanks to the provision of the HPV vaccine to all secondary school girls.
We are also seeing more and more Scots taking their day-to-day health more seriously now as well, with more General Practitioners per head of population in Scotland than anywhere else in the UK, with more and more practices now open during the evenings and at weekends. Since the SNP took office back in 2007, 2.2 million more Scots are now registered with an NHS dentist, which is up by 85%.
Under the SNP, Scotland became the first country in the UK to introduce targets for mental health waiting times, with over £150 million being invested over the next five years to improve our mental health services. We are making great strides forward in tackling the stigma associated with mental health and helping people get access to the services they need.
Extra funding has also been provided for our veterans’ charities, ensuring that those who have put their lives on the line for the rest of us have priority access to treatment in the NHS and our other services.
The SNP is also looking after our carers too, with over 22’500 carers and young carers benefiting from the Short Breaks Fund. The Self-directed Support Act also now enables to all who use social care services to manage their own care budget.
All of this has been done with a strong SNP government who have had to fight tooth and nail to defend the funding of these services. Despite cuts to the Scottish budget as a result of cuts via the Westminster government, the SNP have kept our most valuable public service running.
And they have done more than just that; under the SNP, our NHS has thrived and Scotland has become a healthier nation for it. Our health, in Scotland, has always been an issue and the SNP have fought to improve it.
So, for a healthier Scotland with an NHS that will always be free at the point of use, on May the 5th, vote for the SNP.