I agree that putting the NHS on the table in future trade negotiations would undermine it as a free, universal public service. We must not allow this to take place.
I am committed to upholding the NHS’s founding principles as a universal healthcare system provided free at the point of use: a comprehensive, integrated and public NHS that is there for all of us when we need it.
EU bilateral trade deals had a standard public service exception for all countries and the UK education and health system was always included in that general provision. I fear that may be lost if we are to come out of the EU.
Health is a devolved matter in Scotland, and I am very concerned that Scotland’s NHS is at breaking point.
Indeed, the Chair of BMA Scotland has warned our NHS is at a “tipping point” and that “staffing levels are becoming critical”. In addition, the cost of bringing in agency staff has increased dramatically in recent years, with a 107% rise between 2011-12 and 2016-17.
Evidence from Audit Scotland has shown there are too few nurses, GP practices are closing, and consultant vacancies are unfilled. Services are being cut and my concern is that patient care is being put at risk.
We must find solutions to the chronic shortage of NHS and social care staff across the sector. I want a healthier Scotland and an NHS free of privatisation. I support an end to outsourcing NHS services to private firms. I believe our health service should not be reliant on private companies that put profits before people.
We need to invest in our NHS to give patients the modern, well-resourced services they need for the 21st century. I also believe the powers of the Scottish Parliament should be used to halt the cuts to local budgets which are impacting so heavily on our health and care services. Only then can we care for the NHS, so that it can do its job of caring for the country.
I assure you I will continue to oppose privatisation in the NHS and work to protect our health service from US corporations.