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1000 new GPs pledge as Moray MP launches new healthcare policy for Scottish Conservatives

By Alan Beresford

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Moray MP and Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross with the party's new healthcare policy. Picture: Moray Conservatives
Moray MP and Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross with the party's new healthcare policy. Picture: Moray Conservatives

IMPROVING rural healthcare in areas like Moray is one of the main planks of a new policy launched by Moray Conservative MP Douglas Ross.

Mr Ross, who leads the Scottish Conservatives, said that among the pledges contained in the policy was delivering 1000 new GPs.

The paper, which was unveiled the party’s with shadow health secretary Dr Sandesh Gulhane, also guarantees that every Scot will be able to get an appointment with a GP within a week by raising the proportion of NHS funding going on GP services to 12 per cent.

It comes after Mr Ross previously raised concerns that there had been a minimal increase in the number of GPs working in Moray despite an influx of more than 1200 new patients across the area.

Entitled Modern, Efficient, Local: A new contract between Scotland’s NHS and the Public, the policy document outlines solutions to what Mr Ross says is a host of problems that have left the health service “in permanent crisis” under the SNP.

As part of the major proposals, the MP wants to ban the closure of any NHS facility, unless it is to be replaced by a new one, following the decision to close GP surgeries such as Burghead and Hopeman.

He continued: “The most common way that people interact with our health service is through GP appointments, yet the share of the budget allocated to GP services has declined under this failing SNP government.

“And the result has been that, since 2012, 86 local medical facilities have been shut down in favour of increased centralisation.

“As we have seen here in Moray, patients in areas such as Burghead and Hopeman have had to deal with the impact of losing their medical practices.

“As a bare minimum, people expect to be able to see a GP in a manner convenient to them but in rural areas such as Moray, this is often not the case which is completely unacceptable. That is why we would increase the portion of NHS funding given to GP services.

“This would enable us to recruit 1000 more GPs; introduce a ban on local health closures, while reopening practices to ensure there are no blank spots across the country; make appointments as accessible as possible by offering online booking and consultations; and introduce a new national standard of one week for waits for a GP appointment.”

Other plans within the policy paper include the creation of an app enabling patients to book appointments, view live waiting times and access their medical records.

The Scottish Conservatives also want a 'patient guarantee' that would introduce maximum waiting times for different treatments, with sanctions for health boards that exceed them.

The proposals would also see the development of a Vaping Restrictions Bill to bring the regulations on vaping in line with those for smoking.

Mr Ross added: “We can all see the cracks in a system that is well past breaking point.

“Despite the best efforts of hardworking staff, one in seven Scots – over 800,000 people – are on an NHS waiting list.

“Our health service in areas such as Moray is in permanent crisis. Yet the SNP government offer no vision to turn around the NHS’s fortunes.”

However, Moray SNP MSP Richard Lochhead said the Tories "can't be trusted" with the NHS.

He continued: “The Scottish Government is committed to training 800 new GPs to work in our NHS right across Scotland and not only are those training places full, they have been expanded.

“If the Tories at Westminster had prioritised investing in public services instead of tax cuts in their budget, the Scottish Government would be better placed to invest in all parts of our NHS – including GP services.

“Introducing financial sanctions for health boards missing waiting time targets at a time of huge pressure, and when the NHS is recovering from a global pandemic, would do nothing to help patients in Moray or elsewhere in Scotland – in fact this policy is a reminder why the Tories simply can’t be trusted with our NHS.”

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