Patients must be priority for NHS

This article first appeared in the Perthshire Advertiser.

NHS Tayside has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons in recent months, quite rightly coming under significant scrutiny for a host of questionable decisions made by its senior management.

It is, I believe, only right that when such understandable criticism is dished out that it is done so proportionately. Most people who use the NHS in Tayside, and indeed across Scotland, receive a first class service delivered by hard working, and often overworked, dedicated medical professionals.

It is also vital that when service changes are being proposed that the expertise of medical professions, and the long term needs of local communities, takes precedent over short sighted financial decisions.

It was with this approach in mind that I recently joined local Scottish Green Party members at a well-attended public meeting in Bridge of Earn to discuss exciting proposals for a new health centre in the town.

I was delighted to hear from local people about their exciting vision of a new health and wellbeing centre, bringing together GPs with a wide range of other services such as physiotherapy, and a focus on prevention, would bring huge benefits that could help prevent people from becoming seriously ill in the first place.

Plans for a community café would also help reduce social isolation which in itself is one of the biggest factors affecting health in later years.

It is vitally important that the Oudenarde development comes with the full infrastructure needed to serve a bigger population, that means a health centre that is fit for purpose. NHS Tayside need to be flexible about any deal with the developer that could reduce the costs of constructing a new centre, while prioritising their budgets on facilities that are fit for 21st century community healthcare.

The Health and Social Care Partnership must also listen carefully to what the community want, there has been talk of a new centre for decades, it’s about time a business plan was agreed that puts community needs at the forefront.

Of course our NHS could not function without the thousands of friends and neighbours Scotland has welcomed from the EU, and beyond, over the years. Many people have chosen to make Scotland their home and share with us their dedication and skill and I am eternally grateful for that.

Unfortunately, The UK Government’s shambolic Brexit, combined with its horrendous, inhumane ‘hostile environment’ immigration policy is making many of those who have settled in Scotland or are considering doing so, think again.

At a time when Scotland needs to welcome many more migrants to ensure we can continue to deliver the level of public services we have all come to expect, the UK Government’s intransigence is making this impossible.

With this in mind I look forward to joining Perth4Europe at its march against this wrongheaded Brexit at the weekend. The march will leave from the car park on the South Inch at 2pm on Sunday, June 24, I hope to see you there.