And it hasn't been achieved by NHS staff competing against each other. It has been achieved by NHS staff working together in the interests of patients.
So we will continue to build on these achievements. We will make good on our pledge to protect spending in the NHS.
Cate Devine severed her left index finger last December and after an intensive three-hour operation to re-attach it, plus several weeks of healing time, she felt compelled to talk about it non-stop.
No matter how carefully we look after our own health, the sad fact of life is that accidents will happen, violence will be visited on the innocent, and illness or disease will defy even the most rigorous diet and exercise routine. And when there's an emergency to deal with, Scotland's NHS unflinchingly steps up to the plate.
8 Hospital Departments:
My finger has required treatment at two different hospitals and has involved the emergency, orthopaedic, surgical, anaesthetic, radiographic, orthotic, outpatient and physiotherapy departments. Yet what has struck me is a tangible sense of unity and cohesion. On all levels, the practitioners I've been fortunate enough to encounter know each other by their first names and my meticulously updated case notes have always been presented on time - and my GP was fully up to speed within hours.
Now, imagine internal market and complex cross charging in the new English NHS or worst having to be referred back to your GP to be re-referred? She was lucky to be living in Scotland.
While I do agree we all need to take more responsibility for our own general health, I'd argue that achieving this is not the NHS's core remit. For all the patients who present with problems associated with conditions such as obesity, Type 2 diabetes, drug and alcohol abuse (many of whom seem to treat the their own health, and the NHS, with a perversely casual disdain), there must be as many again who find themselves forced to swallow their pride, ask for help and – even after a lifetime of payslip deductions to help fund it – are hugely grateful when it comes.
Hang on, the jury is out still on diabetes, could a pre-diabetic because of sensitivity to hypoglycaemia inadvertently ate to combat the low sugar leads to obesity? What about the 30% of Chinese that are low weight or normal weight?
I shudder to think what might have happened were the NHS to be privatised, as critics fear will be the case in England. Health Secretary Andrew Lansley's Health and Social Care Bill, in for a bumpy ride as it goes through the report stage in the House of Lords this week, makes priorities of the promotion of market forces and competition in the English NHS. The proposals seem predicated on Tory shibboleths and, if implemented, would greatly damage the ethos of the health service.
Should we all move to Scotland?
The truly democratic nature of our NHS is what makes it truly remarkable. In our hour of need we are all equal in its eyes. And that is the mark of a dignified nation.