Miles Briggs: Staff keep the NHS in good health

Increasing demands which are being placed on Scotland's health and social care services. Picture: Getty
Increasing demands which are being placed on Scotland's health and social care services. Picture: Getty
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As the NHS prepares to celebrate its 70th birthday early next month, we will hear much of the changing challenges it faces.

Since its inception in 1948, the world we live in has changed hugely, and of course the health service has had to adapt to those developments.

From obesity-related conditions – with more than two-thirds of us now classed as overweight – to the crisis in mental health services and the provision of social care for an ageing population, these are things which simply weren’t on the agenda seven decades ago.

But what’s critical is this – the founding principle of “from the cradle to the grave” must remain the same.

NHS Lothian faces some of the greatest challenges to overcome in the form of a social care crisis, lengthy waiting times for certain specialities and workforce shortages for key roles, such as GPs.

At the same time Edinburgh and the surrounding regions have the fastest growing population in Scotland, which means demand is only going to increase, on what is an already under pressure service.

These challenges are not insurmountable and I will continue to fight to provide hard-working NHS staff with the support they need to do their job and provide the best possible service to residents in Lothian.

At the heart of every organisation are people – and the NHS is no different. I’m lucky enough in my job as shadow health secretary to meet with NHS professionals on a daily basis.

Most of my meetings will focus on the challenges facing our NHS and the increasing demands which are being placed on Scotland’s health and social care services.

But more often than not they are about the people and lives which have been saved. They are conversations about how those who work in our NHS go the extra mile every single day to deliver patient care.

Last week the UK government announced an extra £20 billion investment in the NHS.

This deal will mean that the Scottish Government will receive a £2 billion windfall to support health care in Scotland. It is essential that every penny of this extra funding goes to health care in Scotland.

It is not enough just to increase funding, there also needs to be improved management of this funding. This year there has been the revelation that NHS Tayside took more than £2 million from its charitable endowment fund to cover running costs.

Here, NHS Lothian representatives said they would require £31 million to continue providing services at 2017 levels.

There is a finite amount of funding available to NHS Scotland and we can’t afford to have people at the helm who do not have a grasp on NHS Scotland’s finances.

Our NHS is the envy of many countries around the world and we should be very proud of its first 70 years. Its success is down to its staff, who go above and beyond to care for anyone who comes through their door and I would like to say a huge thank you to them.

Its continued success over the next 70 years will be because of the professionals who work tirelessly to care for British citizens “from the cradle to the grave” and I am committed to helping them do this.

Miles Briggs is the Scottish Conservatives’ shadow health secretary.