FOR many of us in the Scottish Conservatives, the general election result was disappointing, but one in four Scots still put their trust in our party to defend the Union and oppose a second independence referendum.

To do this, we are now in the process of selecting a new leader ahead of the Scottish Parliament elections next year.

For whoever becomes the next leader of the Scottish Conservatives, the challenge ahead is far wider than merely focusing on the constitution.

We need to shine a light on the many failings of the Scottish Government whilst presenting a real alternative to voters.

Educational standards are dropping, NHS waiting time targets are being missed and our economic growth is sluggish – despite the fact that many Scots are being asked to pay more in tax than their counterparts elsewhere in the UK.

A particular area of concern is the NHS. Four of Scotland’s fifteen health boards are currently under special measures, which means that the problems they face are so great, they cannot be fixed without government intervention while a further two currently have mandatory government support in place.

This is quite a staggering state of affairs and the current cabinet secretary for health, Jeane Freeman, shows little sign of having a grip on the situation.

Patients are bearing the brunt of this in addition to the SNP’s decision to reduce capacity and staff numbers within the NHS.

Last year, in November alone, 1,000 patients waited more than twelve hours before they were seen in A&E.

Paramedics, for example, have one of the toughest jobs and are some of the most hard-working and dedicated public sector workers, but they face a number of challenges.

For the past four years, the number of paramedics signed off with anxiety, stress and depression has increased. NHS bosses are becoming more and more concerned about the impact this will have on the service.

Moreover, whilst ambulances have a target of twenty minutes to turn around between dropping off a patient and going out to get another, the number of turnarounds that took more than an hour is on course to double over just three years.

Clearly, a combination of a lack of support and poor resourcing is making it harder for paramedics to do their jobs and respond to emergencies.

The Scottish Conservatives are committed to resourcing our NHS properly.

The Conservative UK Government is investing more than £20 billion extra funding in real terms over the next five years, which is the biggest cash uplift the NHS has ever received.

While the Scottish Government will receive its share of this through the Barnett formula, it is up to the SNP to decide whether to pass it onto the Scottish NHS – but this has not always happened in the past.

My party will be keeping up a relentless pressure on the Scottish Government to ensure that the NHS in Scotland benefits so that staff can continue to provide the services on which we all rely