Action needed on health

23 Aug 2007

A version of this letter was published in The Scotsman on 23rd August

Sir,

Healthcare is one of the three main responsibilities of the Scottish Parliament (along with education and criminal justice). Our National Health Service is pretty much the worst in Europe. As you reported yesterday, cancer survival rates in Scotland are lower than almost everywhere except pone or two Eastern European countries. Many Scots are dying quite unnecessarily as a result. If the government could be sued for corporate killing, it probably would be.

You would have thought that this was a matter of grave concern to our politicians. But at the recent Holyrood election there was almost no discussion of this crisis. Instead, our MSPs seem happier holding endless ‘conversations’ about the constitution.

They’ve already got the powers they need, so why don’t they act? Step one would be a serious inquiry into why health services in, say, Sweden, Belgium, Germany or Holland perform so much better. Let me give them a clue to get started – it’s not money (we already spend more than most) nor is it the staff, who are usually excellent.