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I am grateful for this opportunity to address grants to devolved Administrations. This week we celebrate the 70th birthday of our NHS, which is incredibly timely as we see how the SNP have talked the talk but failed to deliver for health services in Scotland. Even though over a third of Scottish Government spending is dedicated to health and sport, Nicola Sturgeon’s mismanagement of healthcare has had a devastating impact on local services across Scotland, which accounts for a large proportion of my constituency casework. That is down to not just poor workforce planning on the SNP’s part but a refusal to deliver the funding needed by health boards to ensure that everyone across Scotland can access top-quality care when they need it.
While it is common to hear nationalists in this place and Holyrood paint a picture of a perfect NHS in Scotland, that is simply a smokescreen for their own failings and is unidentifiable to many Angus residents. Whenever the SNP Government have benefited from increasing budgets thanks to the UK Government increasing spending, they have been reluctant to pass that on to Scotland’s health service. For all their condemnation of the Conservative party, it is Nicola Sturgeon’s party that has not served our health service well. NHS spending in England increased in real terms by 10.9% from 2010-11 to 2016-17, whereas Scotland only saw a 5.4% increase—less than half. Health spending increases in Scotland failed to match those in England in 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15. Nicola Sturgeon’s new ministerial team—once she finds a replacement for those with records of the most despicable remarks—has a clear opportunity to put that wrong right.
The Prime Minister has rightly promised an additional £20 billion for the NHS—a commitment that I welcomed, along with all Conservative Members—but there has been silence from the SNP. Why? Because they are not interested in extra funding from the UK Government to Scotland. They would rather focus on stoking up grievance and division. The NHS funding commitment will help to deliver improved services and higher quality care and is a clear demonstration of this Government’s determination to support our much-valued public services. That commitment means that the Scottish Government will receive an additional £2 billion by 2023-24.
Nicola Sturgeon now has a responsibility, after seeing standards slip and confidence fall, to invest every single penny of that increase in Scotland’s NHS. For far too long, she has starved the Scottish health services of money, overseeing closures of centres across the country. In Angus, she has allowed the excellent Mulberry ward to close, the Montrose maternity unit to be shut down and Brechin infirmary to go and at every turn has prioritised centralisation over local services; my list could go on. The SNP are experts at shouting from the sidelines, but this extra funding is a test of their commitment to our NHS. I urge them to show the people of Scotland that they can act in the national interest by committing £2 billion to Scotland’s health service.