Scottish Liberal Democrat North East MSP and former Army Major Mike Rumbles will use tomorrow’s debate on Armed Forces veterans to call attention to the collapse of Veterans First Point services under the SNP.
Mr Rumbles is campaigning in support of Veterans' First Point centres, first set up in Scotland with money gathered from UK banks in Libor fines. That funding has run out. The Scottish Government offered to continue funding the First Point Centres but would only guarantee 50% of the funding, the other 50% to come out of health board budgets. However some cash-strapped health boards have been unable to continue providing these services for veterans.
Speaking ahead of the debate, Mr Rumbles said:
“So long as Scottish Government cuts are hitting Veterans’ services, any debate about support for our veterans and armed forces is just lip service.
“The First Point centres are a lifeline service yet six of the eight centres are only still open because their local health boards have stepped in to the breach and others have folded entirely. For veterans in Grampian their nearest centre is now Tayside.
“The responsibility for these closures squarely at the feet of Scottish Ministers. It’s no good the Cabinet Secretary coming to the chamber to say how much the Scottish Government supports veterans when Ministers preside over this sorry state of affairs.
Notes to editors:
The Grampian and Highland centres are closed because no funding could be found, even with 50% funding from the Scottish Government as cash strapped Health Board could not afford to make a 50% contribution.
Per head of population NHS Grampian only receives 90% of the average funding per head of population. That is the lowest level of any Scottish health board.
Last week the Scottish Parliament information service revealed that the Scottish Government failed to meet its own funding targets for NHS Grampian every year since 2009. It has short-changed NHS Grampian to the tune of £165.6million over this period.