Patients have praise for the NHS

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OUR RECORD BREAKING NHS

Late last year a news bulletin featured the well-publicised problems at NHS Grampian. A television crew pitched up at Foresterhill in Aberdeen and asked some of the people about their views as they left the hospital. No doubt they were expecting a torrent of criticism.

Instead, to a person, the patients had nothing but praise for the health service.

The people were right. A later report found that the big fall out between senior management and clinicians in Grampian had not affected patient care.

Of course the reason it didn’t was because of the commitment of our health service staff.

And across Scotland there is now record-breaking public support for our National Health Service which is working at its best-ever level of performance.

Not the sort of headline we are used to seeing but nonetheless the certain conclusion from the one report card on the Health Service that really matters - the opinions of the people.

Every single year since 1983 the National Centre for Social Research has interviewed the public about their views on and feelings towards the NHS.

The latest report, carried out between August and September, 2014, was published last Thursday as part of the Social Attitudes Survey.

It’s findings were clear. Satisfaction with the Health Service in Scotland is now running at its highest ever level and is now much stronger than in England or Wales.

The conclusion was “in 2014, satisfaction with the NHS in Scotland was 75 per cent, the highest ever recorded.

This was significantly higher than satisfaction levels reported in England (65 per cent) and Wales (51 per cent).

The gap in satisfaction between Scotland and the other two countries is now one of the largest since 1983.”

The Health Service will always have to run very hard just to stay still. People are living longer, thank goodness - that means there are more older people to treat.

More conditions are treatable, thank goodness - that means that there are more procedures to carry out.

Of course the NHS often comes under great pressure. The nasty respiratory infection circulating just now is a case in point.

It is a key reason why more people have been turning up much sicker at accident and emergency departments across the country.

“Urgent action” required for North Sea oil and gas sector

There have been repeated calls from North Sea oil and gas operators for swift action from the Westminster Government to mitigate the problems currently faced by the industry.

Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael says he is determined to work with the Scottish Government and Aberdeen City Council to help the industry but doesn’t think that March is a long time to wait for change, if indeed any comes in the forthcoming budget.

For some reason Labour’s Jim Murphy has turned to Holyrood for answers saying that MSPs can provide relief when they discuss the Scottish Government’s budget this week despite having no control over HM Treasury. And Calamity Clegg continues to tease the North-east with a City Deal for Aberdeen but will confirm nothing.

Amid all this posturing, people are losing their jobs while the industry struggles to make the necessary changes.

I am delighted that the Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce has backed the SNP’s calls for immediate action on tax cuts for the North Sea oil and gas industry.

In a recent letter to Chancellor George Osborne, the body suggests that “urgent action” is needed to change the fiscal regime if we are to avoid the premature de-commissioning of North Sea assets and a long-term decline in the operations of the basin. Robert Collier, Chief Executive of AGCC, says that when the chamber responded to the Treasury’s consultation on the UK offshore oil and gas regime several months ago in October they found all the operators had the same message: the headline tax rate must be cut.

Members of the chamber also think that the supplementary charge should be abolished – something the SNP has called for called for since it was first introduced in 2011.

The SNP Government has put forward a plan for immediate taxation changes to support the oil and gas sector.