EVERYBODY knows someone whose life has been saved by the NHS. It's easy for us to forget that in many countries in the world, even very rich ones, there is no national health service.

But 65 years ago a visionary Labour government decided that enough was enough. In a civilised country, every person would get right to the care they need.

Our NHS is more than a set of hospitals and clinics, it's with us in our best and darkest days; it's a support network of nurses, doctors and scientists most of whom we've never met, but have devoted their lives to making us better. I want to pay tribute to their hard work and say thank you. But I know saying thank you isn't enough; politicians need to show that the NHS is their priority by making the right choices. After years of Tory neglect, Labour turned the NHS around. Spending increased to record levels and hundreds of millions of pounds was invested in new hospitals. We delivered the first guaranteed waiting times anywhere in the UK and employed more doctors and more nurses.

The truth is that if you look at the choices the SNP are making, they're too distracted by independence to make the future of the NHS their priority. They have cut nursing posts by 1,500, jobs that Labour created, and there are now fewer posts in the NHS than in 2007 when the SNP came to power; patients are languishing on trolleys in A&E for more than 12 hours; and the SNP presided over the widespread fiddling of waiting times figures. It really looks like you can't trust a word the SNP says on the NHS.

On our own doorstep, 124 nursing and midwifery posts have been cut from the Vale of Leven Hospital, under the SNP Government, since 2007.

Other posts have also been axed at the local hospital including administrative positions, healthcare scientists and medical posts. This has a consequence for local employment as well as for our healthcare. And of course, the staff at the hospital have to shoulder more of the burden of care, as their colleagues leave the service.

Anyone questioning the SNP's version of events is instantly accused of scaremongering or somehow being anti-Scottish. Let's be clear, the concerned patients and courageous staff speaking out against the SNP's choices are not talking Scotland down; just like us, they are proud of the NHS and they want it to be better.

I'm proud of the NHS and I want to make it stronger for the next 65 years. That's why I'm backing Scottish Labour's "proud of the NHS at 65" campaign to celebrate our achievement and involve people in helping shape the future of our health service.

And locally, that means delivering health services north of the river Clyde, at the Vale of Leven hospital in partnership with the Golden Jubilee, as Paisley really is a bridge too far.