Last week our National Health Service celebrated its 73rd birthday. The last year and a bit has been like no other for staff, patients and those who have seen loved ones cared for in our NHS due to the Covid pandemic.

Right here in Clydebank, people have enjoyed wonderful services thanks to the tremendous staff at the Golden Jubilee Hospital.

I am sure there will be readers of this column who do remember the NHS coming to be in 1948 and it has been treasured by each generation. Since March 2020, they have gone above and beyond on the frontline to tackle a challenge none of us could ever have imagined we would be dealing with. They have put their own health and safety at risk in order to care for us.

We continue to owe every single one of them a huge debt of gratitude. The staff are at the heart of what makes our NHS so special.

However, sadly we are seeing Covid cases beginning to rise again in Scotland. I would continue to encourage everyone to get their vaccine as soon as they are offered it, whether that is your first dose or the all-important second dose.

West Dunbartonshire has seen two straight weeks without a death relating to Covid-19 but that does not mean we can be complacent. That said, the success of the UK vaccination scheme is putting us in a much more positive position than we have been throughout the crisis. The vaccines are helping to weaken and indeed break the link between infection, serious illness and hospitalisation.

We are now looking forward to restrictions continuing to ease and spending more time with our loved ones and going to more events that we haven’t been able to do for well over a year. People have made huge sacrifices, but the end is now in sight. The vaccination scheme has shown the incredible work within our health services and the success of pooling and sharing our resources together across the UK.

Sadly, all too often the NHS is treated as a political football by those in power and if the last 16 months have shown anything, it is that we rely on it now more than ever.

I will continue to fight to ensure our NHS is properly funded to support patients at every single turn as we continue to tackle the virus, as well as tackling the backlog in operations and other treatments.

The NHS has emerged as a shining light of this horrific virus. I wish it many happy returns and hope for a brighter picture to emerge for its 74th birthday next year.