ONE of the most important things for which the Scottish Government is responsible is our National Health Service.

They have had a decade to shape health policy and determine the way in which the NHS is run.

Sadly, as in many other policy areas, it would seem that the SNP have taken their eye off the ball while they have focussed their efforts on pursuing their dream of separation.

Recent figures that have been released by Audit Scotland have highlighted the extent of the problem.

Over the past decade, while the number of people registered on surgeries' lists has risen by 12 per cent, the number of GP practices in Scotland has fallen by six per cent.

It is no surprise that public health has not improved in recent years and that waiting times targets are being missed.

The latest figures on recruitment to fill GP training places have shown that nearly a third of Scottish places have gone unfilled.

This compares poorly with vacancy levels of only 16 per cent in England and nine per cent in Wales. The reason for this is simple. Cutbacks and existing shortages have quite simply made taking up a Scottish training place an unattractive prospect for young doctors.

The working conditions in NHS hospitals are also of concern. A survey by the British Medical Association in December last year found that 70 per cent of doctors had experienced work-related stress and 15 per cent felt that their stress was unmanageable.

More than half of the GPs surveyed reported that their workload has a negative impact on their commitment to the job.

It is not just new GPs with whom the NHS in Scotland is struggling. They are also losing much of the talent that they already have.

Up to three thousands doctors have left Scotland to work abroad and the Royal College of GPs has warned that Scotland will soon be short of around 850 general practitioners. This is a modern-day brain drain.

The Scottish Government's efforts to combat this trend have borne little fruit.

In 2015, ministers announced a £2.5million fund with the aim of securing more family doctors in rural and deprived areas.

In March this year, they re-announced the fund and pledged a further £5million of investment. In the two years it has been running, however, it has recruited a grand total of 18 doctors.

The SNP have, of course, also been making use of their favourite policy tool: The centralisation of services. Last year, they closed the cleft lip and palate surgery in Edinburgh.

Being led by an internationally renowned surgeon and achieving some of the best outcomes in the whole of the UK was not enough to save it and now patients have to make longer and costlier journeys to receive treatment.

The Scottish Conservatives have launched a new campaign called 'Save our Surgeries' to raise these issues and promote solutions to help our GPs.

GP leaders say that it is vital that we spend 11 per cent of all NHS funding on general practice and a Scottish Conservative government would commit to meeting this target. It is time for SNP ministers to take action and support our GPs.