Rachael Hamilton is Conservative MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire

Our NHS deserves better

As we approach Christmas, it is great to see the towns and villages across the Borders light up with festive decorations and events. Preparations for Christmas are well under way, and that shouldn’t stop at the stocking up on presents or food. I would encourage everyone who has repeat prescription medication to order and collect their prescriptions at least a week before the holidays, to ensure they have plenty over the Christmas period when the GPs and pharmacies are closed.

On the subject of medicines and our NHS, I want to thank all those hardworking NHS staff who will work tirelessly over Christmas providing fantastic care. They really are exceptional people and we should be grateful for their tremendous efforts.

Despite our hardworking NHS staff working all hours to ensure people make a full recovery, it was disappointing to learn last week that NHS Borders was escalated to Stage 4 under the Scottish Government’s NHS Board Performance Escalation Framework. For the first time this year, NHS Borders has been unable to make enough savings to balance the books.

NHS Borders has sadly been plagued with poor A&E waiting times, long waiting times, missed cancer treatment targets and staff shortages for many years now.

We are not alone; there have been significant issues at other health boards across the country, such as at NHS Tayside and Highland.

Ultimately, it is the professionals and staff who have been let down by the SNP Government. There is only so much that they can do through their hard work and determination. The main responsibility lies with the lack of funding and support from the SNP Government in Edinburgh. The UK Government gave the SNP an extra £2bn to spend on our NHS and it must be used appropriately to ensure rural health boards like NHS Borders are better supported.

The worst and next stage is Stage 5, which would involve the Health Secretary intervening on the functioning of NHS Borders. I hope that the SNP listen to the concerns I raised in the Chamber in Holyrood with the Health Secretary, so that we do not reach that stage. I will continue to push them to ensure the NHS Borders gets the funding it deserves.

So as Christmas draws nearer, please spare a thought for those working in our NHS and the immensely valuable and life-saving work they carry out. They bring a lot of cheer and good will to all those who have to spend Christmas in hospital or care this year.