After nearly 17 years of SNP Government, Scotland’s NHS is in dire straits. Health secretary after health secretary has come and gone – including both of Scotland’s most recent First Ministers – and each has left our NHS is a worse state than they found it.

Barely a fortnight passes without yet another headline about record-long waiting lists, or declining health outcomes.

It was only last week at First Minister’s Questions that I was able to challenge Humza Yousaf about reports that Scotland has some of the worst survival rates for several of the most serious forms of cancer. In fact, in a comparison of the five-year survival rates between 33 similar countries, Scotland ranks 32nd for pancreatic cancer, 31st for stomach cancer, and 29th for lung cancer.

As expected, the First Minister’s response outlined no solutions to this crisis, even if he did accept that there is ‘more work to do’ on this issue – a huge understatement which will be of little comfort to the families affected each year by these less survivable cancers.

The challenges created by Scotland’s geography mean that healthcare costs more to deliver per head of population in Scotland, compared to elsewhere in the UK. This is why the Barnett Formula ensures that the Scottish Government always receives the extra funding it needs to deliver high-quality healthcare in every part of the country.

However, since coming to power, the SNP Government have taken this funding and gradually funnelled it away from the NHS. In 2006, health spending was 12 per cent higher per head compared to England, but by 2019 this had been cut to just three per cent – and the results of this are clear to see.

Because it isn’t just five-year cancer survival rates that the SNP are failing with, as earlier this month, new figures exposed the shocking waits that mental health patients are enduring across the country, with some patients having to wait around 100 weeks for their first appointment. This includes a patient having to wait 89 weeks for treatment right here in NHS Forth Valley.

A&E waiting times’ statistics also make for grim reading, with recent figures showing that less than 60 per cent of attendees at A&E were seen within four hours across Scotland as a whole. But here in Forth Valley, the figures are even worse, with less than 40 per cent of attendees being seen within this time.

The SNP often point to the pandemic as the source of all these problems. But the truth is that most of these issues long predate the arrival of Covid. Nor are these problems the fault of dedicated frontline staff, who have been made to carry the can for years of failed workforce planning from SNP Health Secretaries.

The truth is that this is a crisis of the SNP’s own making. As I said to the First Minister last week, it is a record he should be ashamed of, and the onus now lies with him to fix it.