Real Change in Public Health
- Defend a publicly-owned, publicly-funded NHS, free at the point of need.
- End PFI robbery to fund NHS Scotland.
- Reverse austerity cuts, and build a resilient NHS.
- Secure NHS jobs: end poverty pay and insecure work.
- Restore local democracy and local healthcare services across Scotland.
NHS Scotland is one of our greatest national achievements – but cuts and privatisation have put the service in danger. Scotland’s health and care needs are only going to grow – we need a fully-staffed, fully-funded, publicly-owned NHS that remains free at the point of need.
To make sure the National Health Service is resilient, funded, staffed, and accessible, we’re freeing up vital funding by ending PFI robbery and reversing austerity cuts in Scotland. NHS jobs should be secure, well-paying, and desirable – so we’re ending poverty pay and insecure work. We’re improving local and national health outcomes, and fixing health inequality in Scotland, by returning control of local healthcare needs to communities and health workers.
Publicly-Owned, Publicly-Funded, and Free at the Point of Need
The NHS is not a charity. We all pay for it through taxation and everybody in society benefits from universal healthcare, free at the point of need. Nobody who is sick should ever have to worry about paying for healthcare, or go without – NHS Scotland guarantees that.
But profiteers are circling the NHS in Tory Britain. The government is fooling nobody – it is no defender of a publicly-owned NHS, free at the point of need. We need to keep private healthcare interests out and stop the Tories giving the NHS away to Donald Trump.
As MSP for Lothians, Colin Fox introduced legislation abolishing prescription charges in 2006. The SSP is committed to maintaining no prescription charges in Scotland.
Health knowledge is a key public interest matter – which is why we’ll make sure data-protected medical and scientific research is publicly available on NHS databases.
A Resilient Service and No Privatisation
The Coronavirus crisis has exposed the need for flexibility, resiliency, and fail-safe redundancy in healthcare. Scotland’s health needs are only going to keep growing – we need an NHS Scotland fit for the challenges of the 21st century.
It’s clear to all that we can no longer discount a sudden surge in demand for NHS beds. To make sure NHS Scotland is always ready, we’ll increase bed space to allow a mean occupancy rate of 85% in general wards, and 75% in Intensive Care.
To help keep NHS funded, resilient and well-staffed, private healthcare providers will pay a special charge to compensate the public for the public education and training of healthcare workers.
In July 2020, the Tory Westminster Parliament failed to protect our NHS from a private sell-off to US interests. The threat of private healthcare companies and Wall Street profiteers undermining and usurping our NHS is real – and we can’t rely on Westminster to defend it.
We need the full powers of independence to stop privatisation in NHS Scotland. But we can start the fightback now, by bringing subcontracted support services back into public ownership, and improving the security and quality of public sector NHS jobs.
The Coronavirus crisis has exposed the precarious nature of PPE provision in Scotland. PPE should be the norm, not the exception. That’s why we’ll establish publicly-owned PPE production in Scotland, to make sure we have amply supply for our future needs.
Scotland should have the power to establish a publicly-owned pharmaceutical corporation, supplying low-cost generic medication to the NHS and to pharmacies, and working closely with Universities and research facilities to make Scotland a world-leader in drugs innovation again.
The Royal Hospital for Sick Children and PFI Robbery
Extended delays in opening Edinburgh’s Royal Hospital for Children and Young People are a failure of the relationship between public services and PFI private profiteering – and the public is paying millions of pounds a month for a hospital closed to patients in the middle of a global pandemic. The public paid £1.4m a month to a private firm for a hospital we couldn’t, on top of an £11.6m payment already taken from NHS Lothian – money straight out of the NHS budget.
In January 2020, Audit Scotland confirmed that Scotland is being ripped off by PFI robbery – Labour mismanagement continued by the SNP. They found that for the £9 billion worth of public infrastructure built through PFI contracts, “the Scottish public sector will make payments worth over four times the capital value of the assets built (over £40 billion) with £27 billion still to be paid between now and 2047/48”.
“The Scottish Government accepts that using private finance to pay for public buildings is more expensive than other forms of funding” – but it is still strongarming local authorities into schemes that rip off taxpayers, plunder public funds, and lead to cuts in public services.
NHS Boards spent £80.5m on the private sector in 2018/19, and the Scottish government does not adequately keep track of how much public funding is leaking into private hands until it’s already gone.
Colin Fox has called on the Scottish government to end this kind of profiteering and fund the NHS instead. Instead of moving public money into private hands, that funding should be used to support in-house services and meet local healthcare needs.
NHS Jobs: End Poverty Pay and Insecure Work
We know that the nature of medical practice places unique demands on frontline health workers – among the most challenging working circumstances. But that’s why looking after the wellbeing of health workers is so important. We’re winning real change for workers.
Workers in support roles, cleaning, the ambulance service, catering, administration, and nursing need a better deal – pay and conditions that reflect their critical role within the NHS.
To end poverty pay in Scotland’s workforce, we’ll raise minimum public sector pay to £12 per hour for all workers over 16, and deliver secure jobs with minimum and maximum hour contracts for every worker who wants one.
Health workers are the experts in keeping their workplace safe. That’s why the Scottish government should use devolved powers over health to put workers in charge of workplace health and safety, with elected reps and full Trade Union involvement in planning.
Student nurses will be paid no less than the new Scottish Minimum Wage – £12 per hour for every hour of working time, including travel. All NHS shift workers will be entitled to free childcare services in their local community. Low-paid NHS workers will benefit enormously from free public transport as the alternative to regressive taxes.
Local Democracy, Local Services and Everyday Health
Scotland is one of the most centralised countries in Europe, with more and more decisions about local healthcare being taken away from local government and moved to central government in Edinburgh. Local democracy is being replaced by an increasingly centralised, unelected, appointed bureaucrats – as well as super-hospitals far away from local communities.
This is the wrong direction for NHS Scotland to go. We’ll oppose hospital closures where there is still a population requiring local service. We’re committed to a decentralised NHS, integrated with social services within the framework of local government. The future day to day running of the NHS will be supervised by elected health boards consisting of medical professionals, other healthcare workers, and local communities.
We know that health and care go hand-in-hand. That’s why we’re flying the flag for a publicly-owned National Care Service, free at the point of need and allied to the NHS.
Scotland has a mental health crisis, and it is disproportionately located in our most deprived communities – which have the least access to mental health services. We’ll get straight to the social and economic causes of our mental health crisis – precarious hand-to-mouth living, alienation, disenfranchisement, poverty, and insecure housing.
We’ll fund an expansion of community psychiatric nurses in Scotland, and diversify the range of accessible services to meet everybody’s needs. Mental healthcare is a human right.
The SSP launched the campaign for free school meals in 2001, and we’re still just as committed. With child malnutrition in the UK running out of control, every child must have guaranteed access to nutritious and free meals. We’re adding a dental hygiene campaign in all schools, with free toothpaste and toothbrushes available to every child.
We’ll make funding available to remove admission charges for fitness facilities, swimming pools, sports centres, and gymnasiums, and make sure Physical Education and athletic opportunities are available to every school pupil.
By putting workers and Trade Unions in charge of workplace health and safety, we’re making workplaces in Scotland safer for everybody – improving long and short-term worker health. Getting cars off the road with free public transport will take the pressure off of emergency services and the NHS by reducing the number of traffic incidents in Scotland.
We Need You to Support Real Change
We don’t have or want billionaire backers and big corporate donors: we only seek our support from Scottish Socialist Party members and the generosity of working-class communities. We need you to support real change.
Scottish Socialist Party members are card-carrying ambassadors for the working-class movement, and the most important resource we could ever have. Comradeship is the heart of the socialist movement.
Come rally; support real change today.