As health secretary in the first SNP government, I took radical steps to redress the significant failings of the previous Labour and Lib Dem Scottish Executive in underfunding and under-resourcing NHS Grampian.
Despite swingeing cuts to Scotland’s budget from Westminster, we have protected and increased funding for NHS Grampian. In fact, we’ve increased it by a huge amount – £300 million – giving the North East over 50 per cent more in funding for health services than it received under Labour and Lib Dems. In terms of what the overall budget for health in Scotland, we are ensuring that the North East gets its fair share – with 9.8 per cent of resources now going to Grampian, compared to 9.1 per cent before the SNP were in government. That’s a huge difference, which is being put to good use in delivering more doctors and nurses to deliver better healthcare for the local community.
We have transformed the provision of services by building for the future with a new £110 million Emergency Care Centre completed in 2012 and a new £15 million Community Health and Care Village in the city – a brand new outpatient hospital, delivering diagnostic and treatment services for the people of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.
And we’ve got more to do.
Work will start soon on a new £14 million health care hub for Inverurie – delivering vital services to rural Aberdeenshire, a project long-promised by the Lib Dems when they still had MSPs in North East constituencies, but never delivered.
At Foresterhill, nearly £100 million has been committed for the new Baird Family Hospital to transform maternity, gynaecology, breast screening and breast surgery services, creating a new neonatal unit, a centre for reproductive medicine, an operating theatre suit and research and teaching facilities. The new state-of-the-art ANCHOR Centre will provide the very best quality of out-patient care for patients with cancer, and include pharmacy, research and teaching facilities, adjacent to the existing Radiotherapy Centre.
But we’re not only investing in bricks and mortar. There are now more skilled professionals delivering the highest quality healthcare in Grampian than ever before.
Staff numbers are up by 7.5 per cent in Grampian with the SNP.
We’ve increased the number of consultants in Grampian by 36.6 per cent.
The number of emergency medicine consultants have increased by 110 per cent.
We’ve delivered more nurses and midwives under the SNP.
And we’ve grown the number of GPs working in Grampian by 9.6% – that’s 50 more doctors in primary care across the region than under Labour and the Lib Dems.In our manifesto, I make a personal pledge on health if people across Scotland choose to re-elect me as their First Minister next Thursday. The SNP are promising record investment of £500 million above inflation by the end of the next parliament to boost staff levels further and transform health care.
No other party in this election – despite their repeated complaints about NHS funding in recent years – is matching our ambition. Labour aren’t even willing to pass on the funding to Grampian which comes by default from changes to NHS spending in England.
Labour in Aberdeen have spent the past weeks scaremongering over major trauma provision in Aberdeen. They are wrong on the facts and wrong to politick over such a serious issue. Our manifesto makes absolutely clear that Aberdeen Royal Infirmary will be a key part of Scotland’s major trauma network.
On top of that, we’ve made absolutely clear in our manifesto that Aberdeen will be the site of a new elective treatment centre, part of £200 million of investment to improve care for older people. There’s no word of anything similar from Labour or the Tories.
Scotland’s NHS is our most cherished public service – and Grampian is a major and growing part of that, which has gone from strength to strength under the SNP. Only with a re-elected SNP government can we keep driving our NHS forward, giving it the resources it needs now, to make it fit for the future.