Douglas Ross claims SNP has 'failed rural and island communities' on health

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross
-Credit: (Image: PA)


Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has claimed the SNP has “failed rural and island communities” on health, as he campaigned in his former constituency.

Mr Ross, who is stepping down from Westminster at the General Election, said the SNP government had overseen a “postcode lottery” in Holyrood with more GP surgery closures happening in remote and island communities than in central belt ones.

He told a media briefing on Saturday morning that it was “emotional” to stand down from his Moray seat, as he campaigned in the town of Burghead for his party.

Mr Ross said a “lot of key seats” in the election were “a straight choice between the Scottish Conservatives and the SNP” and claimed that Labour and the SNP had “very similar policies”.

The MSP for Highlands and Islands said: “I don’t think anyone can honestly say that the SNP, their remaining representatives in rural areas or the Government as a whole, have done enough for rural Scotland.

“The SNP have absolutely turned their backs on these areas.

“They have ignored them for far too long, and they continue to ignore them and no amount of refreshes, reboots and restarts is changing that.”

He added: “The SNP have failed rural and island communities, in particular with respect to health.

“The shortage of teachers across Scotland, again, is a more significant problem in rural communities than it is in urban ones in the central belt.”

The Scottish Conservatives said GP surgeries in rural Scotland were “closing at more than twice the rate of those in many central belt health boards”.

The party said it would recruit 1,000 additional GPs and ban the closure of local healthcare services.

During the media briefing, Mr Ross criticised the SNP’s “obsession” with independence, adding “people can see their focus is not on the issues that really matter”.

Discussing standing down from Westminster, Mr Ross said: “It was emotional for me because I tried many times to become a MP for Moray and was delighted to not just be elected in 2017 but to then be re-elected in 2019.

“So it was a huge honour for me as somebody who was born, brought up and has lived in Moray my entire life.”

He added: “It’s tinged with a bit of sadness that I will be the final ever MP for Moray because boundary changes sadly carved up that constituency.”

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