HEALTH: NHS recovery and the economy should be Yousaf’s top priorities

By Lucy Ashton

The Scottish Conservatives are calling on Humza Yousaf to put NHS recovery and stimulating the economy at the top of his government’s to-do list.

Speaking ahead of today’s (Tuesday) parliamentary statement by the First Minister on his administration’s top priorities, Meghan Gallacher also urged him to ditch the National Care Service, pause the Deposit Return Scheme and support Scotland’s farmers.

Meghan Gallacher, Humza Yousaf and Tory MSP Craig Hoy.

According to the Scottish Conservative deputy leader, Humza Yousaf’s top priorities should be to:

  • Deliver a new recovery plan for our NHS to reduce waiting times and clear up the mistakes he made as health secretary
  • Ditch the National Care Service and divert the money saved to local councils who are better equipped to cater for social care needs in their area
  • Stimulate the economy by ruling out further income tax rises and matching the business rates relief offered to companies elsewhere in the UK
  • Pause the Deposit Return Scheme until the flaws in it are ironed out
  • Introduce the Agriculture Bill urgently to protect farm funding

Meghan Gallacher MSP said: “Humza Yousaf has been quick to jettison his ‘continuity candidate’ tag as ever more shocking stories have emerged about how the SNP was run by Nicola Sturgeon and Peter Murrell.

“So I hope he uses his statement on Tuesday to turn his back on his predecessor’s policy failings too – including those for which he, as health secretary, is directly responsible.

“Humza Yousaf tacitly acknowledged his own failings by adding ‘NHS recovery’ to his successor’s job title. But we also need to see, finally, a workable recovery plan for Scotland’s health service that will address the enormous and unacceptable waiting times – because the previous one clearly isn’t fit for purpose.

“He also has to ditch the SNP’s unaffordable and bureaucratic plans for a £1.3 billion National Care Service and redirect the money to councils, who are better placed than ministers to determine the local care needs in their area.

“Our economy is struggling and at a competitive disadvantage because the SNP has made Scotland the highest taxed part of the UK. The First Minister needs to rule out any further income tax rises and extend business rates relief to the same level that applies south of the border.

“The Deposit Return Scheme, in its current form, is a disaster waiting to happen for Scottish businesses. Rather than merely giving small firms a year’s grace, Humza Yousaf must pause DRS entirely until the fundamental flaws in it are resolved.

“Rural Scotland has been shamefully ignored by this SNP government, so we need the First Minister to finally introduce the long-awaited Agriculture Bill to provide clarity on farm payments.

“Humza Yousaf has the chance to break free from years of SNP failure, if he is bold enough to do so. But, given his grievance-seeking legal challenge over the GRR Bill, the signs are not good.

“While the First Minister is distracted by manufactured constitutional battles and the civil war tearing his party apart, the Scottish Conservatives will focus on the public’s real priorities – tackling the cost-of-living crisis and NHS waiting times.” 

In September, the Scottish Conservatives published their priorities document for the 2022-23 Programme for Government:


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