It’s true the SNP government is less than radical but so was Labour

BRIAN Wilson’s Saturday articles are usually brilliant but, while he is right to point out (Perspective, 24 October) that the SNP have been neither competent nor radical in the past eight years, neither were Labour in the previous nine.

Labour sowed the seeds of the disastrous wind farm and Curriculum for Excellence policies, and failed to tackle the housing crisis or explosion in obesity-caused Type 2 diabetes, which, according to recent reports, accounts for £1 billion out of NHS Scotland’s £12bn budget.

Nicola Sturgeon could have used her recent “walking on water” period to convince us what really needs to be done in this country to get it going.

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For example, on obesity, a combination of regulation on advertising, sugar tax, food packaging and contents, education by schools and medical staff. Similarly, she could be making a case for fracking and proposing true reforms of the NHS and education. Unfortunately for a 
party obsessed with winning independence, the solutions require challenging beliefs, better behaviours and reforming organisations, which affect people’s jobs and votes.

It’s no wonder, therefore, since Labour seem to be simply tracking the SNP these days, the Tories, the only party untainted by stasis in Scottish Government, are going up in the polls.

Allan Sutherland

Willow Row, Stonehaven

In his weekly lambasting of the SNP government, Brian Wilson focuses on central control of the NHS, though I would have thought any “national” service would involve a bit of that.

In any case, as he admits, there is pressure from the opposition.

I recall their glee when they ambushed Mr Salmond at First Minister’s Questions over two patients in a particular hospital being unable to obtain an additional blanket. Currently it is A&E waiting time targets which are the subject of attack.

As to his suggestion that questioners be referred to the health boards, one can imagine the howls of outrage if any minister suggested that.

The plain fact is that the NHS is funded by central government and responsibility, and hence direction, go with the money.

To ensure local control it might be necessary to introduce payment at the point of use. Is that what Mr Wilson wants?

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At least with the present set-up questions can be put publicly in Parliament and have a fair chance of being reported.

If, for instance, the payment to T in the Park had been made by the relevant local authority would we ever have heard of it? Local bodies tend to become cosy coteries operating below the radar.

S Beck

Craigleith Drive, Edinburgh

The NHS is one of the most difficult public services to manage. Even if budgets are maintained in real terms, the combined pressures of ageing population and the high cost of new treatments create a huge challenge for those trying to keep up with demand.

Any using the NHS in Scotland will have seen the great dedication and caring approach of our nurses and doctors, who do a tremendous job with the resources available.

Yet the First Minister’s instincts, when put under pressure on her government’s record with NHS Scotland (“Sturgeon defends record on NHS”, 24 October), was not to be honest about the spending choices they have made, but rather to try to divert attention to a story of make-believe about what might have happened if Labour rather than the SNP had been in power since 2007.

Once again, the First Minister treats the people of Scotland as fools. The Audit Scotland report is very clear, the SNP government have kept money back from the health budget allowing it to decline in real terms.

This has enabled the SNP to favour other priorities, including their vote-winning universal benefits that do as much for the well-off as for those who really need help.

At the same time, the SNP have made poor decisions in resource planning, leaving gaps in GP and nursing cover that are very difficult to rectify in the short term.

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If our health service is a real priority for the SNP they should divert money back from where it is not needed, but of course that would likely cost votes, which for the SNP would be a step too far.

Keith Howell

West Linton, Peeblesshire