If the past 24 hours have shown us anything, it is that the First Minister will say anything to deflect from the Scottish National Party’s appalling record in office. However, people across the country want the First Minister to focus on the day job. Therefore, will she tell us why the number of unfilled posts for nurses and midwives is at an all-time high?
Do you know what? There is nothing whatsoever wrong with Kezia Dugdale having changed her mind since then, but what is wrong is for her, having held that view, to suggest that people who still hold that view are somehow expressing something unacceptable. That is not legitimate. [
On staff in our national health service, today, there are 12,000 more people working in our NHS than there were when we took office
. We have more nurses, more doctors and more allied health professionals in our health service than ever before, and we have more per head of population than any other part of the United Kingdom. That is because this Government is investing in our health service and is doing so to a much greater extent than Labour would be if it was in office.
The Presiding Officer:
No, Ms Dugdale, the point is to be respectful and courteous to other members and not to impugn their character in that way. I recognise that there is a disagreement about accuracy. However, you must not impugn someone else’s character in the chamber.
It was the First Minister who decided to slash places for student nurses and midwives when she was the health secretary. That is why we have a shortage of nurses and midwives in the NHS in Scotland, which has severe consequences for the care that patients receive.
We know from the figures that were released this week that almost 500 operations were cancelled because of pressures on NHS resources. That is hundreds of people who did not get the treatment that they needed because the SNP’s priorities are all wrong. Does the First Minister regret not spending enough time on the day job?
In January this year, we announced a 4.7 per cent increase in intakes to pre-registration nursing and midwifery programmes. That is an extra 151 places and the fifth successive rise, and the total equates to 3,360 entry places. Under this Government, there has been an average of 1,000 more nurses in training each year compared with the position under the previous Administration. That is this Government’s record when it comes to nurse training.
As for cancelled operations, a small number of operations are always cancelled. That can happen for a variety of reasons, but the overwhelming majority of operations in our health service go ahead as scheduled. That is down to the fantastic work that is done by doctors and nurses and by everybody else who works across our health service.
That is yet more fake news from the First Minister. Here is the reality: missed accident and emergency targets; operations that are cancelled because of pressure on NHS staff and resources; and thousands of patients who are trapped in hospitals when they are fit to go home. That should shame the First Minister, except we know that nothing really does.
Tomorrow, we can kick the Tories out of office and get a Labour Government that will work night and day to invest in our schools and hospitals, will deliver a real living wage of £10 an hour and will deliver £3 billion more for public services. Is it not the case that the only way to get a Labour Government tomorrow is to vote Labour?
The problem for Kezia Dugdale and Labour is that they have spent all their time in the campaign attacking the SNP and letting the Tories completely off the hook. Kezia Dugdale even suggested a couple of weeks ago that there were parts of Scotland where people should actually vote Tory. That is what she said.
The reality is that a vote for Labour tomorrow—a vote for the party that was beaten into third place last year—risks letting a Tory in by the back door. The only party in Scotland that has the strength to take on the Tories is the SNP. If people want rid of the Tories in Scotland and if they want MPs elected who agree with Jeremy Corbyn on more issues than Kezia Dugdale does, they should vote for the SNP tomorrow.