By Democrat reporter
Jackie Baillie and Anas Sarwar have today unveiled a recovery plan for Scotland’s NHS following the devastating impact of the pandemic. The plan was launched at Vale of Leven hospital.
The recovery plan includes proposals to get cancer treatment back on track, improve mental health care, and give carers the pay they deserve.
Jackie Baillie has said that the NHS must be the priority for the next parliament, not a matter for “settling old scores”.
The Labour blueprint includes a catch-up plan for cancer screenings by increasing staff and processing capacity to clear the backlog of appointments within a year, highlighting there are 7,000 missing cancer diagnoses as a result of Covid.
Election time – Baillie and Sarwar lay our Scottish Labour’s healthcare plans.
Scottish Labour’s election campaign will focus on a National Recovery Plan with five themes: a jobs recovery; an NHS recovery; an education recovery; a climate recovery, and a communities recovery.
An education comeback plan has already been published, and this is the second element of the national recovery plan.
The National Recovery Plan for the NHS includes measures to:
* Get services back on track and prioritise cancer treatment and care.
* Invest in mental health services to improve support, end rejected referrals, and support good mental health in the workplace.
* Create a national care service to transform social care.
* Provide a real pay rise for NHS staff and raise social carers’ pay to £15 an hour, with an immediate rise to £12.
Jackie Baillie said: “Covid has reminded us of the value of our NHS, but the past year has not come without a cost. It is fitting that our recovery plan was launched on the steps of the wonderful Vale of Leven hospital.
“The staff at the Vale have worked unimaginably hard over the last year to keep us safe and protected.
“Waiting times have soared, there are missing cancer patients, a growing mental health crisis, and an exhausted workforce.
“Restoring the NHS and Scotland’s health will be key to Scotland’s recovery, and we can’t go back to the old way of doing things.
“This plan offers solutions to ensure we can restore our NHS and that is what this election is about – solutions for the future; not the arguments of the past.
“Better public services; not settling old scores.
“A national recovery plan to unite our country; not an obsession with what divides us.
“After the last few days, it’s clear that only Scottish Labour is focused on what unites us so that together we can build a stronger recovery for a fairer Scotland.”
Meanwhile, Ms Baillie issued a statement this evening about the cancer situation in Scottish hospitals.
She accused Nicola Sturgeon of playing politics with cancer diagnostic centres.
This follows a promise that Nicola Sturgeon made as part of the SNP’s election campaign, to deliver fast track cancer diagnostics centres, the Labour candidate said.
Jackie Baillie said: “What the First Minister failed to mention was that this was a policy previously promised by the SNP back in 2018 within its waiting times improvement plan.
“In 2018 the SNP promised to deliver these fast track centres by Spring 2021 but has completely failed to do so. Instead she has recycled the announcement hoping that people would not notice.”
She added: “Nicola Sturgeon’s attempts to recycle failed policy pledges on cancer diagnostic centres is an insult to both the electorate as a whole and particularly to those living with cancer.
“The SNP has the audacity to not bother sticking to its word in government and now has the cheek to recycle this policy in the hope that no one will notice that these are nothing but empty words.
“Only Scottish Labour has robust and thought out proposals which call for a recovery parliament so that we can tackle the problems of today, rather than rehash the constitutional arguments of the past.”
Patients have had to wait far too long for Sturgeon to fulfil her diagnostic centre promises.