Public Health and Social Care
- Moray communities should receive the same standards of health and social care as other comparable large rural communities in Scotland.
- NHS Grampian and Moray Council must work together to improve services and outcomes for the people of Moray.
- Mental health services must be at the heart of our recovery from the pandemic.
- Support the provision of mental health services, particularly for children and young people.
- Increasing direct provision of care and reducing reliance on the private sector.
- Tackling the growing problem of substance abuse.
- Increasing public participation in joint Moray Council-NHS Grampian committees.
The Covid pandemic has tested people’s mental health like never before. Enforced periods of isolation and the constant threat of a deadly virus are difficult for anyone to deal with, but some members of our community have found it particularly hard through no fault of their own. Moray Labour Councillors will put mental health provision at the heart of our recovery from the pandemic. In particular we will prioritise mental health services for children and young people, who have had their schooling, friendships, and social lives disrupted during their most formative years.
The pandemic also revealed the weakness of our social care system after years of neglect under the SNP. Social care is crucial for the wellbeing of our families, friends and loved ones and so it must be a priority in our recovery. The Scottish Government is currently in the process of setting up a National Care Service which will remove social care from the Council’s remit. This, however, will be nothing like the existing National Health Service, which Labour established in the 1940s. Instead, it will involve regional boards commissioning care services from competing bidders – with private sector providers expected to gain a high proportion of contracts. The new boards will be answerable directly to the Scottish Government, thus bypassing local democracy. It is essentially an act of privatisation of the kind that the SNP is constantly criticising the Tories for doing. Labour will fight to retain public-sector provision of care services in Moray. Where additional capacity is needed, we will support non-profit organisations and worker co-operatives in bidding for National Care Service contracts.
Scotland is the drug death capital of the world, with significant problematic pockets in rural and coastal communities. Moray Labour Councillors will continue to support the Moray Alcohol & Drug Partnership, and will actively seek the views of frontline drug & alcohol staff and ex-substance users in developing local drug & alcohol policy. We will seek to tackle not just the symptoms but also the causes of drug abuse – like providing greater access to mental health services, and improved training and employment opportunities for people in Moray.
Many people in Moray struggle to access NHS services. Most dentists are not registering new patients, Elgin Community Surgery has closed due to lack of GPs, and the downgrade of maternity services at Dr Gray’s is turning into a national scandal. A recent independent review of that downgrade found that, in other specialisms too, Dr Gray’s is not providing the same level of services as comparable hospitals in the Borders and Dumfries & Galloway. While these issues are outwith the remit of Moray Council, they have a major effect on Council objectives, such as retaining young people in the area. Moray Labour Councillors will work with NHS Grampian to explore creative ways of solving the current recruitment crisis and secure Dr Gray’s status as a thriving hospital where people want to work. This will include a fresh look at the barriers which are currently preventing people from training and working in the medical professions – such as distance to training colleges and difficulty securing childcare for irregular shifts. We will place frontline staff and service users at the heart of this process.