Speaking recently on Good Morning Scotland Nicola Sturgeon claimed vaccination rates for Scottish doctors, nurses and medical staff were higher than last year but failed to explain why rates were far lower than elsewhere in the UK, and below her set target.In 2016-17 only 35 per cent of healthcare workers were vaccinated against flu against a target of 50 per cent (that has never been reached) and a comparable figure of 63 per cent for England and 49 per cent for Wales.The Flying Scotsman, also known as LNER Class A3 4472, was built in 1923 for the London and North Eastern Railway at Doncaster Works to Sir Nigel Gresley's designs.It is regarded as a masterclass in design but by 1963 steam trains had become old-fashioned and having covered two million miles British Railways retired it from service. Graffiti vandals have trashed two carriages of the historic Flying Scotsman train on the Severn Valley Railway in Worcestershire.They struck over the festive period daubing a crude 'Banksy' on one carriage and spraying another with garish green and pink graffiti.I argued the chief opposition parties – the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats – would this year make Scotland’s National Health Service the biggest issue to challenge Nicola Sturgeon on.Supplied regularly with official statistics and credible anecdotal evidence that demonstrates a growing crisis in Scotland’s NHS, the SNP is facing an almost daily onslaught of embarrassing facts, worrying trends, and heart-breaking human examples of how its management is failing.
Labour leader Richard Leonard was right to raise the harrowing treatment of 80-year-old Tom Wilson who waited more nearly four hours for an ambulance and spent 13 hours on a hospital trolley after a fall on New Year’s Day.
As an organisation it is Scotland’s largest employer and greatest consumer of public funds and practically all of its achievements or failures have very little to do with the rest of the UK or Westminster – other than the very significant transfer of taxpayer funds to Scotland that maintains its operation at a level we could not otherwise sustain.
Holyrood – through its powers vested in the Scottish Government – controls how Scotland’s NHS is managed, how its structures are configured, which drugs it uses, what health priorities it chooses, and what level it is financed at.
What is it about politicians, and especially politicians holding government office, that they cannot recognise they are being disrespectful to voters when they resort to “whitabootery”?
I addressed last week the long overdue need for Scotland to face up to the reality that the need for yet more constitutional debate has long since passed.
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