NHS SPENDING

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So the SNP election manifesto is out. Key promise is to increase spending on the NHS by £500 million. How is this to be paid for given that there is to be no increase in tax revenue? £500 million over five years is a great deal of money. Somebody, somewhere is going to suffer. Maybe it will be a further cut of 4.5% to the Comhairle budget? Or another cut to the capital budget which has already been cut by 33%.

But, no, I think it will be done in just the way it has been done over the past few years - by cutting the health budget. The NHS Western Isles budget has been subject to so many slices and clawbacks that despite the headline figure of a 4.6% increase, it has actually suffered a net cash deficit.

And when you ask why these clawbacks happen, nobody knows. Well now you do. The claw backs will go to make up the £500 million.

One of the claw- backs was £150,000 from the Alcohol and Drugs Programme. In October last year figures issued showed that alcohol related deaths in the Western Isles are twice the national average.

Alasdair Allan MSP made a great deal of bleeding heart noises about how terrible it all was, but he did precisely nothing to halt the reduction of £150,000 in the budget - a budget which was to be used to help people with alcohol and drug problems.

The SNP is the party of smoke and mirrors. When your obsession is separation, you tend to take your eye off the governance agenda. Then you just start making things up. Alasdair Allan is a party animal. He cares for the SNP not the people of the Western Isles.

Over and over he supports party policy which is detrimental to the Western Isles - supports Serco taking over the ferry service, supports cuts to the Comhairle and NHS Western Isles, supports cuts to ADS for business users, supports the shambles over crofting payouts, supports cuts to the national fuel poverty budget - the list of ineffectiveness is endless. If you vote SNP, this is what you are voting for.

We need to be clear. When you are imposing austerity on local authority budgets and health boards, despite having a annual budget of £30.2 billion, you do need to explain to the electorate just how you plan to fund this apparent £500,000,000 largesse.

And as for the ‘baby boxes’, what an appalling gimmick. Give the money to the nurses and the staff who work with children, they’ll know how to use it properly to help our mothers and babies and they will direct it where it is most needed. This dreadful gimmick is an insult to NHS staff.

Angus McCormack

Sandwick, Isle of Lewis