by Colin Campbell
NICOLA Sturgeon announced her £500 giveaway to NHS staff, and then almost immediately tried to twist it to her political advantage.
She appealed to the UK government not to tax the money, no doubt knowing what the answer would be in advance.
Implying that this was a test of Boris Johnson’s compassion, she said: “We are asking nothing of the UK government – with this one exception. Please allow our health and care heroes to keep every penny of Scotland’s thank-you to them. Do not take any of it away in tax.”
Such flagrant politicking made me feel so queasy I almost needed a health check after I’d read it. It was the SNP at their utterly shameless worst.
Sturgeon knew, given the damage the virus has inflicted on the UK economy, that it would be virtually impossible for the UK Government to follow suit and give a £500 handout to 10 times as many health and care workers across the rest of the UK.
And having initiated a compassion contest she then went further by trying to portray the UK Government as nasty, penny-pinching Scrooges who wanted to steal money away from our genuine health and care heroes. Does anyone doubt this sickeningly cynical strategy was all pre-planned, and that they knew the money could and would not be exempted from tax with normal procedures rightly being followed, regardless of the SNP’s capacity for devising opportunistic stunts. And a stunt is what it was rather than an attempt backed up by any genuine feeling for frontline NHS workers.
So how good it was yesterday to see a senior Highland doctor denounce it and make his feelings clear in no uncertain terms.
The Secretary of the Highland local medical committee Dr Iain Kennedy told the Inverness Courier that the decision to include well-paid doctors in the scheme giving staff £500 has left him feeling deeply uncomfortable and embarrassed.
He criticised the fact that the NHS was being dragged into politics and said it made it more difficult to face patients as “hard up families will receive £100, but well paid doctors, like us, will receive a bonus of £500.”
“This £500 gift appears to have primarily been used to make the government look good less than six months before the Scottish election rather than say thank you to NHS staff,” he said.
“A lot of us feel we are being used as a political tool and it is making us deeply uncomfortable.
“We have all been on 100 per cent pay since the pandemic and we have all been aware that some of our patients have suffered hardship in this period.
“So I do have to say that I am embarrassed to be offered this bonus and I know that that is shared by a lot of my medical and some non-doctor colleagues.
“There is no doubt that many lower paid workers in the NHS deserve a bonus this year,” he stated.
A highly respected doctor taking on a bunch of cynical political chancers? Who is likely to have more credibility among most reasonable members of the public?
Maybe the SNP thought doctors would confine themselves to medical matters and meekly keep any awkward feelings they had about this to themselves. That they would not have the boldness or audacity to challenge Queen Nicola and her devious cohorts.
Well she certainly misjudged their mood according to the admirable Dr Iain Kennedy. Maybe as a result she’ll think twice about trying to drag frontline NHS heroes into her sordid pre-election game plan between now and the May election.