Scotland politics

Scottish Lib Dem conference: Leader Willie Rennie makes NHS funding pledge

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Media captionWillie Rennie says the Scottish Liberal Democrat Party's plan for funding the NHS is putting "the health service on the front page"

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie believes only his party can tackle Scotland's NHS funding crisis.

In a speech to Lib Dem members, the MSP said the country's health service would benefit from an £800m a year above-inflation funding promise.

Mr Rennie also spoke of his party's key role in coalition government.

He said its track record at Westminster could be summed up in 10 words - "taxes down, pensions up, more jobs, better healthcare, stronger Scotland".

Mr Rennie urged delegates to leave the conference and campaign with him on the doorsteps to help send the party's Scottish candidates to Westminster.

Recent polling has indicated that the Liberal Democrats could lose the majority of its 11 seats north of the border.

The party gathered in Aberdeen for a three-day conference - the last before the General Election on 7 May.

Mr Rennie told delegates that the Lib Dems were the only ones to have a "fully-costed plan" to increase NHS spending across the UK.

The Scottish leader calculated that for Scotland it would mean an extra £800m.

Mr Rennie said: "It means we can tackle the crisis in Accident and Emergency departments.

"We can provide more beds to improve treatment and help staff do their job so brilliantly.

"And we can make a transformational change in the way we tackle mental health. Fast access to the support people need.

"Proper support for young people who need help, not a 100-mile journey in an emergency.

"And an end to 12-month delays for teenagers who are damaged by every day they wait."

Debt levels

He added that the health service was on the "front page" of the Lib Dem manifesto.

"People in Scotland, patients in Scotland, nurses and doctors in Scotland are front page priority for the Scottish Liberal Democrats," he said.

Mr Rennie's speech attacked the Tories and their "ideological drive to reduce the size of the state". He also had a swipe at Labour, saying it was bidding to borrow "billions more even though debt levels are at a record high".

And on the SNP, he said: "Like Labour, the SNP argued for lighter regulation for the banks - just before they went bust.

"Like Labour, the SNP said that the UK government's economic plan would fail - just before the economy started to grow again.

"And now, just like Labour they think the answer to high levels of debt is even more debt."

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