Election letters 2019 / What is the future of the NHS?

The first thing I would say is that the NHS and social care need to be considered together, they are interdependent and need to be effectively integrated to work well together.

The NHS in Scotland has avoided the extensive privatisation and expensive marketisation that afflicts it in England, social care has not been so fortunate. However here [in Orkney and Shetland] social care is still publicly provided directly by the council or in partnership with the third sector (non-profit organisations).

I spent many weeks in hospital with my husband who had dementia and other health problems. He needed everything done for him when his health took a downturn. So I was with him most of the day, helping with his care.

I saw first hand the pressure the staff are under, trying to provide excellent care under difficult conditions; often working after their shift to complete their paperwork. The continual battle to find beds, because bed numbers have been cut that much.


At home we had help through social care. Social care often has a high staff turnover due to poor pay for the job involved, rotas that often change and time pressures. This affects the care provided and interferes with formation of carer/person cared for relationships that are so important for many people needing care and for those providing the care.

Now I am part of the ambulance team on my island and see first hand the effects of funding constraints to our GP practice, our ambulance and equipment.

We fundraise to meet some of these needs, but it’s never likely to be enough to, for example, replace our aging ambulance.

Though the NHS in Scotland is in a better state than in England it is still in crisis, and is affected by what happens in the English service, as are we, our relatives and friends when visiting, living or working South.

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What the NHS and social care desperately needs is proper funding, proper staffing, and an end to privatisation and marketisation.

Labour’s plan for the NHS includes:

  • Increasing funding to the health service and giving greater priority to mental health.
  • Ending prescription charges (free here already) and parking charges.
  • Investing in the NHS estate to improve hospital standards, GP practices, and ensure access to state of the art equipment.
  • Prioritising training and support for the NHS workforce
  • Reversing cuts to public health expenditure, more money for addiction, mental health, obesity and sexual health services.
  • Providing free personal care to people 65+ who need it (free here already)
  • Setting up a National Care Service.

Health and social care in Scotland is devolved but what this means for us is that as well as a better NHS in England there will be a massive injection of funding from health, social care and education due to the Barnett Consequentials which go to make up Scotland’s block grant funding.

So that’s extra funding to the Scottish Government who then choose how that money should be spent. We need Labour in government in Westminster, vote for me.

Coilla Drake
Labour candidate for Orkney and Shetland seat

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