A healthier Scotland

In 1945, in the aftermath of war and national bankruptcy, it was a Labour government that found the resources to create a National Health Service (NHS) – our proudest achievement, providing universal healthcare for all on the basis of need, free at the point of use.


A Labour government will commit to a huge increase in annual funding by making the richest in society pay their fair share, but also by increasing tax on private medical insurance, and freeing up resources by halving the fees paid to management consultants.

These transformational policies will deliver a big boost to the resources of the Scottish government, which controls the NHS in Scotland.

We want to prioritise Scotland’s focus and energy on our health and care sector, not on another independence referendum.

The next Labour government will invest in our NHS, to give patients the modern, well-resourced services they need for the 21st century.

Labour will ensure that NHS patients get the world class quality of care they need, and enable staff to deliver the standards which patients expect.

This means that Scotland will receive more money for our NHS with Labour than with any other party.

Labour fought for and won more powers than ever before for the Scottish Parliament, which, if used fairly, could halt cuts to local budgets which are impacting so heavily on our health and care services.

Labour wants to see proper support and resources for community services to deliver care closer to home and deliver a truly 21st century health system, investing in local services and freeing up resources.

Labour would increase the support in local surgeries to ensure GPs have the resources they need to treat their community, and we would help rebalance their workload.

To make immediate local advice more available, Labour would extend the Minor Ailments Service in community pharmacies. We would also expand the conditions covered under minor ailments to further alleviate the pressures on our local doctors.

Labour wants increased places for medical students, more GP training places, and greater government effort in encouraging more people to make general practice a career choice.

Labour would invest in our health and care workforce. The SNP has failed to properly workforce plan and caused a recruitment crisis for our health service, leaving our NHS staff overstretched and undervalued.

Labour values our NHS employees, so we will end the 1 per cent pay cap imposed on staff which has worsened the recruitment crisis. We will ensure our NHS staff receive a real terms pay increase.

Scottish Labour will launch an NHS workforce commission to find solutions to the workforce crisis.

Labour will deliver a return to proper collective bargaining on pay for health and social care workers to ensure their rights are protected and enhanced.

Labour will immediately guarantee the rights of EU staff working in our health and care services, valuing the input they make to our society and public services.

Social care

The fact that people are living longer is a true success story of our NHS. But we can’t ignore the growing pressure to care for elderly relatives being placed on families across the country which, sadly, can become increasingly difficult as family members grow more frail.

The care sector is on the brink of a crisis as our increasingly elderly population puts new demands on services which are under resourced.

Labour would use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to stop the cuts and invest in local services, and our plans would guarantee a social care package in place within a week of an assessment.

Our proposals to improve the sector are built on properly supporting staff and adopting in full the recommendations of UNISON’s Ethical Care Charter, which will raise standards and reduce staff turnover.

Labour would ensure staff have time to care – and end the scandal of 15 minute care visits. And our £10 an hour real Living Wage will make a huge difference to workers in this and other sectors.

We would deliver a National Careworkers’ Guarantee to go even further, ensuring that staff are paid for travel costs and travel time and that proper training is given to everyone before they enter the workplace.

Labour will not stand by and leave the most vulnerable in our society to fend for themselves. We back the Frank’s Law campaign to ensure those under 65 with dementia would receive free care – but Scottish Labour would go further by removing charges regardless of age, and not just for those with prescribed conditions.

We can properly shift the balance of care from expensive and needless stays in hospital to dignified care at home through these progressive policies.

Labour will increase the amount paid in Carer’s Allowance for unpaid full-time carers by £11 a week, raising the level to that of Jobseeker’s Allowance.

Mental health

Mental ill health is the biggest unaddressed health challenge of our age. Around one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year.

Labour’s vision is for a Scotland where mental health is given the same priority as physical health, and we support the Scottish Association for Mental Health’s (SAMH) call for a 10-year plan for improving mental health services, and the principle of ‘Ask once, get help fast’.

We know that addressing anxiety, welfare and low level mental health issues in the classroom can be hugely beneficial for young people.

Labour’s plans would ensure that all secondary schools in Scotland have access to a qualified and appropriately experienced school counsellor, providing accessible counselling to young people who need it.

Our plans for improving mental health treatment for young people are supported by Barnardo’s Scotland.

Labour’s commitment to end austerity will target many of the causes of poor mental health and, in particular, will focus on the links between poverty, deprivation and mental ill health.

We recognise that good employment opportunities with decent pay also play a significant role in improving quality of life for individuals and their families.

Only Labour is offering a pay rise to hundreds of thousands of Scots with a £10 an hour real Living Wage – a policy that experts say will make a significant impact on poverty, mental and physical ill-health. This would benefit nearly half a million Scots.

Public health

When Labour ran the Scottish government we led the whole UK with positive public health policies, like the smoking ban.

Labour will continue that work with a UK-wide Tobacco Control Plan, aimed at further discouraging and deterring people from starting to smoke, de-normalising tobacco products and reducing the influence of the tobacco industry.

Labour will prioritise efforts on children’s health, protecting the wellbeing of the nation for decades to come.

We will fight health inequalities to break the scandalous link between child ill-health and poverty. The last Labour government lifted 120,000 children out of poverty in Scotland, but with the SNP cutting £1.5billion from our local services since 2011, we are now seeing more children in poverty each year.

It is a scandal that child poverty still exists in 21st century Scotland – and it should be a top priority for government to address.

Scottish Labour would use fairer, progressive tax plans to increase Child Benefit by an extra £5 per week – this would lift 30,000 children out of poverty by the end of 2021.

The next Labour government will publish a new childhood obesity strategy within the first 100 days, with proposals on advertising and food labelling which will have a positive impact on the lives of Scottish children. We are also calling on the Scottish government to take action on unhealthy supermarket promotions and introduce restrictions on multi-buy discounts and promotions on food high in fat, sugar and salt.

Older people across the country are telling us they want a government that understands their concerns, such as loneliness and isolation. Labour wants Scotland to have a meaningful National Loneliness Strategy which would include training for doctors and health service staff on helping pensioners with depression.

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