Anas Sarwar, Scottish Labour’s Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, is calling on Scottish Labour members to come out this weekend to campaign in support of our NHS.

The NHS is a public service unlike any other. For those of who do not work for it we associate it with profound emotions. The joy of the birth of a child, the sorrow at the passing  of a relative.
In our divided society the NHS unites us. When Donald Trump dared criticise it a few weeks ago politicians from all parties united in opposition to him.
It’s a service there for us in times of need – and now it needs us.
A decade of mismanagement and austerity has starved the health service of the support it needs.  NHS staff are over worked, undervalued and underpaid.
As a result, patients aren’t getting the care they need. A&E waiting times for the winter are some of the worst on record. 2017 saw over 100,000 patients wait more than four hours at A&E. Almost 7,000 planned operations were cancelled last year alone because our hospitals couldn’t cope with demand.
A Labour government would end the austerity and tackle the poverty that piles the pressure on our NHS – but this just isn’t about money. It’s about having a plan for NHS and a blueprint to make it fit for the 21st century.
The all-round health service is not getting the support it needs – be it through public health, primary care or social care. Better support for our health service in these key areas will reduce the pressure on our waiting rooms.
But instead, under the SNP, our hospitals don’t have enough doctors and nurses, and they haven’t had enough time off or money in their pay packets.
The lack of nurses can be trace back to the years of SNP pay restraint and the decision to cut training places made by Nicola Sturgeon was Health Secretary.
Likewise, the £1.5 billion cut from our councils since 2011 means chronic pressure on social care. That’s why thousands of patients become delayed discharge cases – medically fit to leave hospital but all too often unable to because a care package isn’t ready.
Labour would do things differently. Our alternative tax and spending plans would mean additional funding for our NHS and a stop to council cuts.
But we wouldn’t stop there – we know that we must solve the staffing crisis. I have established a workforce commission to examine the gaps across our health service, work with experts on a blueprint for how we fill those posts.
Scotland has faced a series of referendums in recent years, but such is the importance of our health service to each and every one of us the NHS ended up in the middle of both of them. Before it was it was slapped on the side of Boris’ big red Brexit bus it was on SNP leaflets, claiming that only independence would stop the health service being privatised.
Our health service has been the subject of outrageous promises and blatant falsehoods.
The NHS can’t be separated from politics – It is politicians who take the decisions on how our health service runs, what funding it receives, and as we have seen only recently which valued services are retained and which are closed.
But we should never forget it was political will that delivered our health service. Without politics – Labour politics – we as a society would never have had our NHS.
It remains Labour’s greatest achievement.
That’s why this weekend Labour activists will be out across Scotland, standing up for our health service, outlining a positive alternative and making it clear that the constant pressure on our hospitals has to stop.
Agree? Then come join us this weekend and sign up here: