During the second last full week of the Scottish Parliament election campaign, Scottish Conservative candidate Finlay Carson for Galloway will be highlighting Health and Education.
Mr Carson said: “Two of the most important responsibilities of the Scottish Government are Education and the Scottish NHS, for which Holyrood has 100 per cent responsibility. I want to concentrate on these policy areas this week, because both are coming under increased pressure under the stewardship of the SNP.
“Nothing unlocks a child’s full potential better than a great education, and every parent and child should expect a first class education system that enables each individual pupil to choose their own path. As the father of two teenagers, one of whom is currently studying at Aberdeen University, I fully understand that university is not right for everyone - our colleges are just as important.
“Since the SNP came to power, 152,000 college places have been cut across Scotland. Furthermore, fewer students from poorer backgrounds go to University that in any other part of the UK and this is having a crippling effect on the futures and ambitions of this country’s young people. That is why I understand the proposal by the Scottish Conservatives to introduce an annual graduate contribution of £1,500, paid back only when future earnings are £20,000 or more. The income from this would be invested in our college and vocational sector, in contrast to the policies of the SNP who have cut funding for this vital sector to the bone.
“And when it comes to our Scottish NHS the situation is even more serious. It is a little known fact that, while spending on the NHS South of the Border increased by 7 per cent over the last six years, the SNP increased NHS spending by a mere 1 per cent despite the UK Government passing on £1.5 billion in Barnett consequentials. In other words, the SNP has chosen not to spend the additional money from Westminster on our Scottish NHS.
“The result is a severe lack of GPs and Consultants and little progress in waiting times for cancer treatments, outpatient appointments, mental health and A&E. Surely it’s time for a better approach.
So I welcome the Scottish Conservative manifesto commitments to guarantee that the Health budget rises annually by 2 per cent or the amount of Barnett consequentials – whichever is the greater. I welcome the commitment to rescind the Named Persons legislation and to increase the number of Health Visitors by 500, paid for by a gradual reintroduction of prescription charges for those that can afford to pay them – surely a better way to ensure appropriate early intervention.
“And I particularly welcome our commitment to improve mental health support. Waiting times for mental health patients of up to four and a half months are simply unacceptable, and I fully support our belief that a further 30 million should be invested in mental health care and support over the course of the next Parliament, with dedicated support available in every GP surgery and A&E unit. Mental Health patients should be treated exactly the same as any other patient within our NHS, and I’ll back any improvements for mental health patients if elected as your MSP on 5th May.”