A WHEEN o fowk are haein their say oan the state o oor NHS here in Scotland syne Audit Scotland publisht their annual report the ither week. As a lang-term activist, campaigner an ex-staff nurse in the NHS, ah micht as weel hae ma tuppence warth anent this subject as weel.

This is a kindae personal owerview. As some o ye’se wull ken ah hae a wheen o issues wi certain aspects o the NHS; its treatment o whistleblowers; lack o accountability bi thaim at the tap o wir NHS; a dreidfu black hole in health an safety issues that are costin hunners ae preventable an avoidable daiths evri year in oor NHS.

Ither poleetical pairties, eg Labour an the Tories, are aye gey swipper tae jimp oan tae the bandwagon an threip anent the SNP’s haundlin o the NHS. But, o coorse, they didnae manage it ony better an the samen criticisms wir levelled at thaim when they wir in chairge o it. Ruth Davidson neednae pynt her finger at failures tae reach national targets – as Jeremy Hunt an his cronies in Englandshire hae met nane o their national targets. Mind, this constant mud slingin disnae dae ocht tae impruive health care.

Sae whit’s tae be duin? The NHS is an undeemous omnigaddrum o diverse groups, aa wi their ain aims an concerns, a wheen o wham are aa pu’in in different directions. Aiblins it’s much greater reform (an quickly!) that we need in the NHS tae mak it a much mair streamlined service.

Thair ower mony bureaucrats, managers an penpushers – an nae enow nurses, doactirs an auxiliaries at the coal-face. Gin ye cuid walk intil a hospital an freely affhaund speik tae an ask ward staff their opeenions oan hou the show is rin they widnae be lang in tellin ye aboot staff shortages an the daily struggle o hours o nurses time spent oan the phone jist tryin tae fin staff.

But ye’ll no be able tae dae that as these fowk hae aa bin cowed bi a management culture that dis aa that it can tae prevent NHS staff frae speikin oot aboot problems in the workplace. Gin ye blaw the whistle then the jack-buited HR Gestapo wull no be lang in invitin ye fir the “interview athoot coffee”!

It wid be interestin tae ken the percentage o health board directors in Scotland wha are peyed north o £100k a year. Mibbes ah’ll speir this question? We hae 14 territorial health boards (an 31 health an social care partnerships!!), aa wi the same levels an nummers o directors an managers. Dae we really need aa this “management”? We cuid aiblins hae six health boards in Scotland – an dae awa wi hunners o managers thus savin a fortune that cuid be pit intil frontline services – employin thae doctors an nurses that are sae badly needit. Gin ye need tae sned an prune a tree ye stairt at the tap – no at the ruits!!

Meanwhiles, at a local level … Ah went tae NHS Ayrshire & Arran’s annual meenisterial review/AGM a week or sae ago. This is the anely meetin aince a year whaur the public get hauf an hour tae spier questions directly o the health meenister an the board chair an CEO. It wis a lively affair!

Rab Taylor, an ex-Labour cooncilor an neebor o mine frae ma mining days, goat oan tae his hint legs an didnae miss thaim anent the £400k cancer scanning machine that hus lain in the unit at Ayr Hospital fir twa years – an hus ne’er bin uised! Is this a ploy tae say the cancer treatment unit at Ayr isnae economically viable, an an excuse tae muive the unit tae Crosshouse Hospital at huge expense an discomfort tae the cancer sufferers o east an south Ayrshire? CEO John Burns mim-mou’d response didnae gae doun weel.

Fraser Morton, wha tragically loast his son in an avoidable stillbirth, revealed that unner FOI he hud obtained emails that wir sent atween NHS A&A an government. Fraser and ither families featured oan TV news nae lang syne in a major expose anent the “unacceptable standards” at the NHS A&A maternity unit. This led tae yet anither “major review” bi Health Improvement Scotland. An as yet unnamed senior manager at NHS A&A described in these emails the bereaved an shattered families wha hud loast their babies as “a self-selected group of highly biased individuals”. Whaevir hud the cruel insensitivity tae mak that remark shuid be gien an immediate career redirection opportunity.

Ah spake masel an speirt o Shona Robison why, eftir fowr years, thair hus still bin nae polis investigation o the mair as 40 daiths (atween 2007 – 2011, the nummers wull be way heicher nou) at NHS A&A that ah reported tae the polis in April 2013. Robison said government meenisters cuidnae interfere in polis investigations an that “people would take a dim view of politicians making these decisions”.

Within a week o this statement ah goat wird frae the Scottish Police Authority that they wid nou be investigatin oor complaint anent the Chief Constable an the Deputy Chief Constable that they hud “failed and refused to investigate 40 suspicious deaths at Ayrshire and Arran NHS Board”. Sic are the lang roads that lead til justice. Ask the fowk at Hillsborough.

Oor NHS is still aye-an-oan the finest thing tae cam oot o that great post WW2 socialist government. Ma ain faimily hae great cause tae be graitful tae it, an thair wull haurdly be anither family in Scotland that arenae graitful tae it eithers in some shape or form. Wi a bit o common sense an veesion the problems that it hus cuid be fixed; ie cost tae replace Trident? £205 billion!!! Let’s pit Scotland’s share intil wir NHS.

Former health secretary Alex Neil hus said that ony proponed new taxation raised in Scotland shuid be resairved fir the health service. Ah wid hale-heartedly agree wi this. Wid you?