Gordon Brown hits out at NHS “Betrayal”
The former Prime Minister condemned the Conservatives and SNP for presiding over the lowest growth in NHS funding since 1948.
During a keynote speech in Glasgow, Gordon Brown said: “It is a national disgrace and shame that under the SNP, the Scottish NHS growth rate is lower than at any time since it was created in 1948 and, as House of Commons library figures show, lower than the 1.1 per cent growth in the rest of Britain, when in both it should be 5 per cent a year to meet the needs of a rising elderly population.”
The ex-Labour premier pointed to polling showing that 48 per cent of Scots believe that the state of the NHS has declined since 2010.
“It may be the 70th anniversary of the greatest British institution we've created but the issue now is really quite simple: How much are we prepared to pay for a healthy NHS? How much do we want to keep it alive? It is being starved of the resources it needs, particularly in Scotland.
“If we want to celebrate the NHS’s 80th birthday and 90th and 100th, then drastic action has to be taken.
“When Tom Johnston formed Scotland’s Emergency Hospital Service during the Second World War - which later paved the way for Aneurin Bevan to create the NHS - the premise was and always has been the same…it is there when all of us need it.
“We now need to ensure it is there when our children need it and their children too.”
He added: “Ten years ago, when I was prime minister, we held a service of commemoration at Westminster Abbey to celebrate 60 years of the NHS - and the most powerful speech I heard on that day came from one of the NHS’s first nurses who reminded us of the bleak conditions that existed before 1948.
“Let us never forget what Johnston and Bevan taught us from their experiences of the industrial communities in the inter-war years; that never again should nurses have to leave the beds of their patients to run charity flag days to pay for life-saving equipment.
“The very existence of the NHS sends out a message that this country is not a marketplace but a society, not a chaotic collection of disjointed and competing communities but one single community united in its commitment to pool and share its resources to treat its sick and care for its aged.”
Brown commended Scottish Labour leader, Richard Leonard for campaigning heavily on the issue, calling Leonard a “great leader, who will make a great First Minister”.
Leonard paid tribute to NHS workers for keeping alive the spirit of Labour's 1945 manifesto, but argued the NHS now needs "radical change" to make it fit for the challenges of the twenty-first century.
At the event Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, Jonathan Ashcroft also pledged an increased £9bn in spending by Labour on the National Health Service, an act which would see Scotland’s health budget increased by £1bn per year.