Sometimes you have to wonder at a campaign which is so bereft of genuine, positive qualities that they are reduced to rummaging about in the policy bin to find something to talk about. So it is today, where it was alleged from certain parties that the SNP had “secret plans” to close vital services in the Greater Glasgow and Inverclyde Area.
The source of these revelations was a leaked draft discussion document. The story should have ended right there, because by definition, a draft is a preliminary document which is written with the knowledge and intention that it will, in all likelihood, be changed in future versions. They are the armature on which the final, official document is built – and the final document can sometimes be revised so much that it is virtually unrecognisable from that first draft. It is for this reason that drafts are not published for public consultation – they are irrelevant, outdated, obsolete, and of no bearing on the final document.
The draft document contains phrases like “live within available resources,” “move without further delay,” “review transfer of trauma,” and “review provision of physical disability”. None of these phrases are contained in the final document, which was published in February 2016. However, one can find this:
So not only are there no references to any wards or units being closed, but the Scottish Government Health and Social Care Directorates (SGHSCD) allocated a base uplift at 1.7% of £33.7 million and £59.1 million social care funding, for an SGHSCD uplift of £92.8 million. The result, even after reductions in other funds, is a total uplift of £86.2 million from the Scottish Government to NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC). If the NHSGGC truly felt that they were in such dire straits in November 2015 that they even considered closing wards, then the Scottish Government’s £86.2 million uplift would surely have changed the situation entirely. As such, any considerations of closures would surely not survive a further revision – and they did not.
In other words, the Scottish Government not only allocated £86.2 million uplift to NHSGGC – they helped prevent the closure of wards, units and services through those extra funds which the NHSGGC feared may have been necessary.
I can’t help but be reminded of several other occasions where “leaked” confidential documents were used to attack the Scottish Government. Back before the independence referendum, a “leaked” document was used to support a claim that the Scottish Government were planning “£400 million in cuts” to health – when in fact, the Scottish Government actually increased day-to-day health spending in 2014/15. The year before that, another document which was claimed to be something it wasn’t was presented as if it reflected what the Scottish Government really thought about “a separate Scotland.”
The people of Greenock & Inverclyde have to choose which is more reliable: a 6-month-old draft document written before the Scottish Budget and never intended for publication or consultation, or a 3-month-old report written after the Scottish Budget and always intended for publication and consultation? They’d do well to keep in mind who it was that was in government (in Holyrood, Westminster, and Inverclyde Council) during the “centralisation of services” which saw the Rankin Maternity Unit closed in 2003.
The SNP have time and again put the NHS first, be it increased funding despite extreme cuts to the Scottish budget, setting and meeting targets, or protection from privatisation. This is so in Inverclyde, too, where the Scottish Government have allocated funding for the £7.6 million replacement of Ravenscraig Hospital and the £19 million replacement of Greenock Health Centre. While others play political games with people’s health, the SNP get the job done.