Scottish election 2021: Douglas Ross to pledge £600 million to tackle Covid treatment backlog

Douglas Ross will today pledge £600 million to tackle the backlog of those waiting for treatment because of coronavirus.

The Scottish Conservative leader will announce a new fund to be used over the next year that would be managed independent of government.

It would see a taskforce of clinicians with the skills and expertise to ensure those most in need get seen first.

Mr Ross will explain they would then be given resources to make outpatient appointments and elective surgery available seven days a week.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross will today pledge a £600 million boost for the NHS

He said: “Our manifesto will have a laser-focus on Scotland’s recovery and what needs to happen to get the country back on track.

“Unlike the SNP we are not setting out a fantasy wish list. Their manifesto could easily cost in excess of £100 billion in a single year.

“The Scottish Conservatives fully-costed manifesto will focus on what matters most – rebuilding our economy and our NHS after the Covid pandemic.

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“Treatment times were already too long under the SNP and Covid has turned a problem into a crisis.

“If we don’t treat this crisis with the importance it deserves and tackle it as quickly as possible, the long-term health repercussions of missed early diagnosis and delayed operations will plague us for decades.”

The Scottish Tory party’s manifesto will say that a top priority should be increasing the diagnostic workforce to help tackle those not yet referred.

It will also promise a “sustained and targeted campaign” to encourage people to visit their GPs.

Mr Ross added: “This one-off cash injection, over and above our plans to increase the health budget by at least £2 billion, would give a task force of clinicians the resources they need to get treatment times under control.

“While the SNP spend the next 12 months focusing on how to get another independence referendum, the Scottish Conservatives would fixate on substantially reducing treatment wait times by the end of next year.”

The announcements form part of the party’s manifesto launch, which will also see Mr Ross claim rural communities have been “neglected” by the SNP and must not be left behind as Scotland recovers from Covid.

Speaking at a farm in Inverurie today, Mr Ross will also announce £550 million in Community Investment Deals and a full public consultation on a blueprint to replace the Common Agricultural Policy within 100 days of the election.

Start-up grants for young farmers and new entrants would be re-opened, while an extra £5m a year would be invested in agricultural research and development.

The manifesto also includes a commitment to review sentencing and penalties for rural crime to ensure offences are treated with the magnitude they deserve.

Last week the SNP pledged to abolish NHS dental charges – a move believed to cost around £75m per year.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has also promised to boost frontline spending by at least 20 per cent, rising by £2.5bn by the end of the next Holyrood term.

Despite the spending pledges, income tax would be frozen for the duration of the next Scottish Parliament if the SNP wins the election next month.

The SNP has been approached for comment.

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