SNP promises 'transformational' increase in NHS spending if re-elected
The SNP has pledged a "transformational" increase in NHS spending if re-elected next month.
Nicola Sturgeon will promise a £2.5bn boost in funding to help the health service recover from the pandemic as she launches her party's manifesto ahead of the vote in May.
Other policy plans are set to include a programme for economic recovery and job creation and plans to give people a choice on Scotland's future after the pandemic.
The SNP says it will also commit to a £10bn programme of investment in NHS infrastructure over the next decade, as well as cash for mental health and the establishment of a National Care Service.
Sturgeon, SNP leader, is expected to say: "In this manifesto the SNP is setting out a serious programme for serious times. It is practical but unashamedly optimistic with a transformational ambition.
"Anyone and any party which aspires to govern in these times needs to rise the occasion – to capture the sense of possibility and hope for a better country and better world.
"At the heart of our programme is the National Health Service.
"If the SNP is re-elected we will use our experience to undertake a full-scale post-pandemic remobilisation of the NHS.
"And today I am pledging a transformational increase in frontline health spending. Investment in the NHS is already at record levels.
"But the pandemic has placed exceptional pressures on our NHS - and that requires an exceptional response.
"So over the next parliament, we will increase frontline NHS spending by at least 20 per cent.
"This will deliver an additional £2.5bn for frontline health services - and is almost double what an inflation only increase would amount to.
"For patients, we’ll establish a fast track cancer diagnostic centre in every health board area.
"We’ll invest £10 bn over the next decade to replace and refurbish health facilities across Scotland.
"And we will continue to invest in and reform mental health services, with a particular focus on child and adolescent services - an even greater priority given the impact of Covid on so many.
"So we will increase direct Scottish Government investment in mental health by at least 25%.
"And we will ensure every GP practice in the country has access to a dedicated mental wellbeing link worker, creating a network of 1,000 additional dedicated staff."
Responding to the SNP's plans, Jackie Baillie, Scottish Labour deputy leader and the party's health and social care spokeswoman, said: "The promise of new funds for our NHS is to be welcomed and we agree that we need transformational change - but after 14 years of SNP mismanagement we can have no faith in the SNP to deliver it.
"Under the SNP’s watch we have seen flagship hospitals opening years too late, delayed discharge persisting, a drugs death scandal, and their own Treatment Time Guarantee broken over 380,000 times.
"We must remember that as health minister, Nicola Sturgeon’s actions saw a cumulative total of £1bn withheld from the NHS.
"The fact of the matter is that we simply cannot trust the very party that has run down our NHS so badly to oversee its recovery.
"Scottish Labour is committed to putting the NHS at the front and centre of our national recovery – our NHS recovery plan will kickstart cancer services, invest in mental health services and deliver a proper pay rise for NHS staff and social care workers."