When Coronavirus turned the world upside down, we stayed at home to protect the NHS. Healthcare staff went above and beyond the call of duty, caring for us and our loved ones through the most trying of times.
From the cleaners to the consultants, they kept the lights on and made sure that our hospitals and health centres were able to function.
However, despite their hard work and the sacrifices that people made across the country, all is not well with the NHS in Scotland. This urgent political problem can’t be kicked down the road any longer.
As NHS Lanarkshire stares into a financial blackhole, government ministers must accept some uncomfortable truths about the national picture.
Long before it was plunged into the pandemic, the NHS in Scotland was already struggling to cope. As we try to make sense of the budget catastrophe that threatens the delivery of the health services that we all rely on, calling out the failure of successive SNP ministers to manage workforce planning and waiting times is not a cheap political point – it’s an essential reality check on how much work needs to be done to turn this deep-rooted crisis around.
Code Black cannot be the new normal for NHS Lanarkshire services or any other health board. It’s putting lives at risk and driving staff out of the health service. Nicola Sturgeon and her ministers must set out detailed plans to fix this. The financial challenges are huge but not insurmountable.
Regardless of events and the political weather, public support and gratitude for the NHS has never wavered. If we were ever in danger of taking our health service for granted, the COVID-19 pandemic has reminded all of us just how vital it is to have healthcare free at the point of delivery, available to everyone regardless of their post code or ability to pay.
It can’t be done on the cheap or via expensive outsourcing. Investing in the workforce is critical. Paying healthcare staff decent wages and helping them to grow within the NHS is absolutely essential. It’s time that government listened to patients, healthcare workers and their trade unions. It’s the only way to get us out of this mess.