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Blue Bitesize #006: The SNP's failings

It's been nearly 12 years since the Scottish National Party took control of Holyrood. But what is their legacy? Amber Dunbar explores the SNP's appalling record in government.


Since the SNP came in to power in 2007, they have certainly made their mark and set Scotland on a path towards the future. I wish I could say this path seems to be a positive one for the people here, however their failure to provide adequate services has unfortunately had the opposite effect.


With a failure to provide adequate health care to so many, the deterioration of the quality of education for school age young people and an array of other deficiencies, it is no wonder they spend so much time talking about independence – to avoid exposing their non-performance to their voters. I would argue that an entire PhD could be written on this, but I will attempt to keep it brief.

The NHS

Seven years ago, Ministers approved the new Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh and it has been hit with delay after delay. Now, safety concerns were raised about the ventilation system so further delays have been announced.

Obviously, safety is paramount and should not be overlooked – but this should have been fixed long ago, not days before it was due to open. There are a number of problems surrounding hospital discharges in Scotland, despite the SNP’s 2015 pledge to eliminate delayed discharge. Just last week we learned that delayed discharges are costing NHS Scotland over £120 million a year and delay numbers continue to rise. Not only are patients are there delays, we are in an abhorrent situation where people are dying whilst awaiting discharge. A Freedom of Information request revealed that between March 2015 and November 2017, 1,152 patients died in hospital whilst awaiting discharge to a more appropriate care facility.

Jeane Freeman has come under scrutiny for the scandal of delayed discharges, after over a thousand patients died on wards waiting for care.


Another ongoing issue within NHS Scotland is an apparent inability to recruit the number of staff needed to keep services open, particularly in more rural areas. An example of this is Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin, where the paediatric and maternity services had to be drastically cut back due to lack of consultants. A mother was forced to travel in a taxi for a journey that would usually take around one and a half to two hours to Aberdeen whilst in labour, because of an ambulance shortage. The ambulance shortage was caused by the issues at Dr Gray’s because ambulances that took patients to Aberdeen because they could not be seen in Elgin, were often rerouted to deal with calls in the city instead of being able to return to their own area straight away.


Education

The problems with NHS Scotland will inevitably get worse due to the SNP’s failure to deliver a good quality education to Scottish students – we can’t create a new generation of medical staff if pupils are denied access to the level of education required to achieve in the field.


Since 2007, total teacher numbers have decreased by 3,100, with 700 vacancies in schools across the country. This has knock on effects proving to be detrimental to the quality of education Scotland’s young people receive, with subject choice numbers in S4 slashed. Pupils like myself who were educated under the Standard Grade system often took eight or nine exams at 15 or 16 years old, however since the change in curriculum, many schools are only able to offer six. 9 in 10 schools have said that the lack of teachers being recruited was directly linked to the lack of subject choices. On top of this, the teachers we do have are being forced to teach multiple levels of classes within one room, having a massive impact on the quality of course content.

Not only is the curriculum and teacher recruitment a problem, the safety of our school buildings has come under huge scrutiny, and rightly so. Two schools, built over a former toxic waste dump in North Lanarkshire, are having tests carried out by Scottish Water after blue water ran from taps, four teachers were diagnosed with bladder cancer, one pupil lost their vision and two were reportedly found with high levels of arsenic in their system.


It is clear Scottish students are not being afforded the opportunities they deserve and can achieve because the SNP are unable to provide them with adequate educational resources. It is unacceptable and young people should not have to suffer because of this. Nicola Sturgeon herself told us that she should be judged on her education record, so we are.

Council cuts

Scottish councils are being forced to make cut after cut because the Scottish Government will not provide adequate funding. The average cut across all council areas was 3.1%, with the highest in Shetland at 3.9%. Jobs are being lost, the safety of children going to school is in question with crossing patrollers axed and health concerns are being raised with grass not being cut and bin collections reduced. Of course, with no money coming from the government, some councils are having to increase council tax, forcing people to fork out more money only to receive less in return, despite an extra £950m boost for Scotland from the UK Government last year.

Broadband roll out

It is a common misconception amongst many SNP supporters that broadband is entirely reserved to the UK Government. In fact, the roll out of broadband is devolved and falls under the SNP’s jurisdiction. Scotland lags behind UK averages on the provision of speeds above 24Mbps, this affects both individuals and businesses. One third of SMEs in Scotland have said they have “poor or variable broadband,” with this increasing the 45% in more rural areas. The SNP pledged in their 2016 manifesto to roll out superfast broadband to every area of Scotland, at a cost of £600 million, but they have already admitted that this may not be delivered.

Conclusion

These are just a few examples of the mismanagement of Scotland’s services under the SNP Scottish Government. The people of Scotland have clearly faced problems due to the SNP’s seeming inability to face the facts, as well as their obsession with independence and refusal to focus on the day job. Nicola Sturgeon’s attitude towards this was made clear in April, when she said that if Opposition members want her to discuss education, health, justice or the economy, that she would be there the next day to answer questions during First Minister’s Questions. The Leader of a country should not need to be prompted to discuss the most fundamental, important aspects of their society, they should simply do so because it is their job. Scotland deserves better.


Amber Dunbar

Blue Bitesize is a weekly article written by our members, for our members, and looks to explain complex political concepts from both the left and right wings of our party.