By Lucy Ashton
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has today warned that vaccine passports could lead to “super ID cards by the back door” following First Minister’s comments on being open to all possibilities including vaccine passports.
Mr Rennie, pictured right, said: “This is super ID cards by the back door. Vaccine passports will divide the country, effectively make vaccination compulsory and pave the way for a permanent ID card.
“The SNP have always been sympathetic to big brother ID cards and tried to introduce a super ID database incorporating information from 120 public bodies.
“Liberal Democrats oppose the use of vaccine passports for accessing public spaces, services and events.
“The best way to keep our country safe is suppress the community spread of the virus by vaccinating almost everyone.”
Meanwhile, ahead of receiving his covid-19 vaccination, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie set out plans to increase the range of healthcare, diagnosis and treatment in local communities with more services delivered through pharmacies and GP surgeries.
The party says that super-specialisation and centralisation of health services has left people in remote and rural areas with long journeys to hospital for treatment and want to create new measures to encourage staff to take up posts in rural and remote areas.
The Scottish Liberal Democrat manifesto will contain proposals to: embed more nurses, dieticians and physiotherapists with GPs so that people can get a wider range of diagnosis, treatment and follow-up care within their community.
- empower pharmacists to do more prescribing, making use of secure health records.
- Create strong clinical networks to give peer support to professionals working in remote and rural communities.
- Change professional education to include more training placements in rural communities to give students a taste for the benefits of the work.
- Adapt national guidelines so that they support rural healthcare.
Willie Rennie said: “The pandemic has had a massive impact on our NHS and the heroic staff who work within it. I want to ensure that the NHS recovery is taken seriously in every corner of Scotland.
“There will always be centres of excellence, but we must get far more healthcare in local communities so care is as close as possible to home.
“We want a new deal to increase the range of treatments and diagnosis that are undertaken in communities and hospitals across the country.”
Mr Rennie added: “In Australia and Canada there are posts called Rural Generalists. There is even an Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine. This makes careers in rural areas much more attractive.
“Our plans will increase the number of professionals living and working in rural areas which will help build stronger, diverse communities.
Dumbarton (and Vale of Leven, top) health centres – plan for Rural Generalists.
On the mental health front with activist Ben Lawrie, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has committed to doubling the number of mental health counsellors in training.
The party’s manifesto will commit to:
- Double the number of people training on counselling courses;
- Offer £5,000 grants to students undertaking counselling courses so that a wider range of people are able to train and qualify;
- Add the counselling profession into NHS workforce planning systems to make sure people have easier access to talking therapies and early interventions.
Willie Rennie said: “As we come out of the pandemic, it is time for Scotland to put the recovery first and fix our overwhelmed mental health services for good. Even before the pandemic struck we had a record number of children waiting over a year for help and the situation has worsened since.
“Our policy will dramatically expand the number of counsellors. New help to train will open it up to more people. We will add counsellors to NHS workforce planning so their skills can help more people. It will bring down waiting times and make it much easier to access services whenever and wherever you need it.
“Scottish Liberal Democrats have consistently championed our national mental health. We led Parliament in declaring a mental health crisis and secured £120 million more for services next year.
“A vote for Scottish Liberal Democrats is a vote to put recovery first and have needle-sharp focus on mental health.”