Tories pledge £600m to clear NHS backlog in manifesto launch

Douglas Ross is promising a one-off boost to deal with the backlog exacerbated by the pandemic.

Tories pledge £600m to clear NHS backlog in manifesto launch STV News

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross will pledge a £600m fund to help clear the NHS treatment backlog as the party launches its manifesto on Monday.

The Tories are promising a one-off boost of £600m, managed by an independent task force rather than government, to deal with the backlog exacerbated by the pandemic.

They say this is on top of the extra £2bn they have already pledged for the NHS over the course of the next parliament.

The Tories say the task force should be led by clinicians and focus on making sure those with the greatest need are treated first.

Ross is due to launch the manifesto in Glasgow on Monday, setting out plans for 15 Bills during the next session of the Scottish Parliament.

Speaking ahead of the launch, he said: “Unlike the SNP, we are not setting out a fantasy wish list. Their manifesto could easily cost in excess of £100bn in a single year.

“The Scottish Conservatives fully-costed manifesto will focus on what matters most – rebuilding our economy and our NHS after the Covid pandemic.

“Treatment times were already too long under the SNP and Covid has turned a problem into a crisis.”

He continued: “It may require difficult choices and sacrifices in some other portfolios but we will be advocating for £600m of targeted support to tackle the treatment logjam.

“This one-off cash injection, over and above our plans to increase the health budget by at least £2bn, would give a task force of clinicians the resources they need to get treatment times under control.

“While the SNP spend the next 12 months focussing on how to get another independence referendum, the Scottish Conservatives would fixate on substantially reducing treatment wait times by the end of next year.”

Commenting ahead of the Conservatives’ manifesto launch, SNP depute leader Keith Brown said the Tories’ opposition to a second independence referendum showed the “weakness of their position”.

He said: “The Tory strategy for trying to block a referendum on independence is utterly undemocratic.

“It’s clear that Douglas Ross and his party have no route through the pandemic, no vision for recovery, no ambition, no intention of setting out a detailed plan on how they would run Scotland and offer no leadership.

“That is irresponsible and disrespectful to voters, who deserve better from the Tories than a long list of things they are against and virtually nothing about what they are for.

“That lack of clarity betrays the weakness of their position, and their panicked obsession with the SNP shows they are running scared of the verdict of the people of Scotland in this election.”

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