Only a Labour Council will invest in local health services.

That was the message from Labour Group Leader Joe Cullinane as the Council election draws nearer.

Cllr Cullinane, who is a candidate in the Kilwinning ward, points to the Labour administrations budget, which he says rejected the SNP Government’s offer to cut funding to the North Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership. Instead of cutting the budget, Labour invested an additional £5.5m in Health and Social Care for 2017/18.

Labour’s additional investment in Health and Social Care has allowed the local Partnership to invest in a number of innovative new models of care including a See and Treat Centre for the Three Towns and Mental Health community connectors in all six localities.

Labour state that this is in contrast to the SNP Government who not only offered the Council the chance to cut Health and Social Care funding, but gave NHS Ayrshire and Arran a financial settlement for 2017/18 which has resulted in £25m of cuts. This cut follows cuts of £15m in 2015/16 and £30m in 2016/17.

Even so, and despite making £25m of cuts in 2017/18, NHS Ayrshire and Arran still has a £13m “underlying deficit” which the board has said will need additional support from the Scottish Government, in the form of a bridging loan.

Councillor Cullinane said; “Instead of cutting the Health and Social Care budget by £2.3m, as suggested by SNP Ministers, Labour invested an additional £5.5m in 2017/18, clear evidence that Labour will ensure local health services are protected.”

“Under the SNP, the Health and Social Care Partnership was underfunded. As a result there have been big ‘overspends’ at the end of the financial year and the impact on services has been grave. “

John Sweeney, Labour’s candidate for Stevenston, added; “Like many communities across Scotland, the Three Towns has faced a GP crisis. I am proud that, as a result of Labour’s investment, we are about to have North Ayrshire’s first See and Treat Centre in the Three Towns. This will ease the pressure on GP services and ensure that local people are able to access health services.