DESPITE various attempts to mitigate the situation, NHS waiting lists in Scotland have reached another record high. Public Health Scotland recorded more than 840,300 waits for appointments or treatment for so-called non-urgent care.

While more patients are being seen, more are continuing to be added to the list. Some have been on the waiting lists for more than three years. Although classed as non-urgent, many of those on the waiting lists are suffering in pain and misery which impacts directly on their everyday lives.

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We are increasingly turning to private healthcare. Paid-for treatment for some medical procedures has soared by up to 74% and private admissions to hospitals in Scotland have risen by 5%. Dr Iain Kennedy, chairman of BMA Scotland, recently said the nation had “sleepwalked” into creating a two-tier healthcare system as the “inevitable consequence of ducking the hard decisions”.

In contrast “free” bus travel for under-22s has cost the taxpayer £223 million in just two years. A value-for-money assessment is still to be undertaken on this project and perhaps this is now overdue. As yet, undefined hundreds of millions of pounds have been diverted from our NHS to fund the Port Glasgow ferry project.

The Scottish Government had promised to create a network of 10 national treatment centres to tackle long waiting times for non-urgent care by delivering at least 40,000 additional elective surgeries, diagnostics and other procedures per year by 2026. A cut in capital spending means that only three centres are up and running so far, with two more scheduled to open this year. There is no timeline in place for the others. Capital spending on green freeports, loans to home owners for the installation of heat pumps and investments in Japanese-owned power cable companies seem to have take priority over the promised treatment centres.

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Over the remainder of this Scottish parliamentary term some very hard choices will need to be made. Some of the government’s “free” stuff and capital spending choices will have to be judged against rising Scottish NHS demands – and the demands of a host of other services from local government to the justice system.

With five long weeks of Westminster election campaigning yet to be endured there will no doubt be a number of further promises made, but regardless of who wins, or who loses, the most Westminster seats on July 4, the election campaign for Holyrood will begin on July 5. The SNP will have only about 22 months to salvage the situation and possibly keep the independence dream alive.

The sad fact is that someone added to a Scottish NHS waiting list today could be still waiting when they come to vote at the May 2026 Scottish Parliament election – and they might well be looking around for someone to blame.

Brian Lawson

AS an oldie I am being encouraged to vote Tory to protect my income. They are the only party to promise to increase the personal allowance for income tax. Would this promise have anything to do with a petition to increase the personal allowance to ensure most pensioners do not pay income tax?

Being of a certain age and therefore forgetful, I wasn’t sharp enough to realise that the Tory Chancellor was recouping the cost of honouring the triple lock commitment for state pensions by freezing the personal allowance. They could pay for this by simply freezing state pensions. One freeze has the same effect as the other. I had also forgotten, being old, that politicians, of whatever hue, give with one hand and take away with the other. It is the fowk they consider inconsequential who end up paying, not the wealthy and the tax-avoiding multi-nationals, and especially not the politicians. Where are the effective proposals to raise taxes from these groups?

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I do hope that the Tories will continue in this vein by adding more populist policies to appeal to the voters. They have already suggested national service for getting yoofs off the street and benefits. That’s gone down weel. I can’t wait for promises to bring back the workhouse, as a way to end the need for food banks; hanging – which might be better done in public – as an alternative to BBC repeats for entertainment; the elimination of free and discounted travel on public transport; privatising the NHS(if the NHS is abolished I’m going to be so happy, as I can’t then be a drain on its resources); ending benefits for the undeserving poor; lights off for Holyrood because Westminster knows best.

Not much to look forrit to in the Labour contribution either. Good pantomime from them, though, with their Scottish leader Anas Sarwar having to correct information about whether or not his family’s business pays their workers the living wage or some such concept. I am not sure which concept applies after his contradictory utterances. Why should he know? He does not benefit or have any links to the business in any way.

Ah Brave New Worlds. Ye’ll hae tae be happy for a bowl of porridge passed down from the top table if any of these lots win the election.

Melvyn Gibson
via email