This week's Community Column is written by Helensburgh and Lomond's MSP, Jackie Baillie.

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There is a reason that the last time the United Kingdom went to the polls in December was 96 years ago in 1923.

At the time, the BBC had issued its first ever broadcast at the start of the year, whereas today we have 24/7 worldwide news. Not all women had the vote in 1923, whereas today we have hundreds of fantastic women running to be MPs.

Let me ask you one thing: please take pity on all campaigners who are struggling in the cold and dark to deliver election literature to you (that you probably didn’t want).

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There is a saying that all politics is local. I couldn’t agree more. Politicians will regularly talk about problems across the country, but unless it affects people in their everyday lives, unless they experience the problem directly, the concerns can pass people by.

Local people will know that I care passionately about our local hospital and the immense contribution of NHS staff, who deserve our thanks for their hard work on our behalf.

But I think patients and staff are being failed. Failed by the health board and by the Scottish Government.

My casework has exploded with complaints about health – in particular, waiting times. The treatment time guarantee has been breached across Scotland more than 200,000 times. That’s more than 200,000 people waiting more than the promised maximum of 12 weeks.

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These people are our neighbours, our friends and our family. Many are waiting for as much as a year, many of them in acute pain, many of them children.

Watching young children, who don’t understand why they have to wait, continue to suffer, and being powerless as a parent to help, is truly dreadful.

Those with means are going private; some are borrowing the money to do so; but it shouldn’t be this way.

I have raised this with successive health ministers; action plans have been put in place, and some extra money provided, but things are not getting any better, if anything the problem is getting worse.

Urgent and sustained action is required to support patients and staff. And this is an area that is wholly devolved to Scotland. The Scottish Government needs to get on with it.

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