The SNP manifesto launch today details the party's plans to protect healthcare spending, not only in Scotland, but across the UK as a whole.
Speaking in Perth at the manifesto launch the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, acknowledged the performance of the Scottish NHS compared to other parts of the UK, and the manifesto draws attention to the record number of healthcare employees since the party took power in 2007.
The manifesto also celebrates the challenges and successes of marrying health and social care, through which 77,000 people across Scotland are able to access free forms of social care for a variety of reasons. The issue of social care has been an on-going contentious one for the Tories who have seen approval rating and polling leads fall since the announcement of their social care policy which would see assets above £100,000 used for the provision of long term care - the so-called Dementia Tax.
The manifesto has a number of policies set to impact of healthcare, including the inclusion of a £10/hour minimum wage, which would help those at the lowest pay-bands within our NHS. Band 5 nurses in NHS Scotland are already paid more than their counter-parts in England and Wales; and those entering the NHS through degree/diploma qualification benefit from free higher education tuition fees.
The key NHS policies are as follows:
A commitment to increase the Scottish NHS budget by £2Bn by the end of the current Scottish Parliament term in 2021.
A call to end austerity economics to allow greater investment in the health service across the rest of the UK.
A promise to vote against any further moves towards privatisation of healthcare services in England and Wales.
A promise to back any moves which restore NHS services to public management and ownership in England and Wales.
Scottish citizens already benefit from higher than average spending per head on healthcare (+7%) than those in England, whilst the removal of prescription charges means patients do not have to pick and chose which medications they can afford to take. The current Scottish NHS budget (£13Bn) is set to benefit from a £500m above-inflation increase year-on-year during the current parliamentary term.
Moves to protect the NHS in England from further privatisation, by the SNP, comes amidst fears that successive increases in private tenure of NHS contracts will slowly erode healthcare funding through the Barnett-consequential.
The manifesto also highlights NHS Scotland's continued good performance in key areas such as NHS A+E waiting times, where although 4 hour targets have not been met, there are significantly better performance rates in Scotland than the rest of the UK.
Full details of the manifesto can be found here