Anas Sarwar blames ‘SNP incompetence’ for rising access to private healthcare
Anas Sarwar has criticised the Scottish Government’s record on the NHS after 43,000 patients paid for private care in the last financial year – up eight per cent on the previous year.
The Scottish Labour leader said patients in Scotland were "paying the price for SNP incompetence" after spending months on NHS waiting lists.
But First Minister Humza Yousaf insisted action was being taken on waiting times, highlighting that two-year waits were down by 59 per cent and 18-month waits were down by 14.6 per cent.
Over 17,000 patients have waited more than 18 months for treatment, according to recent figures. As health secretary Yousaf pledged to alleviate long waits by this month.
At FMQs, Sarwar said patients were increasingly having to pay for their healthcare privately. He said 40 per cent of all knee and hip operations in Scotland were now self-funded.
He said: “Healthcare free at the point of need is a founding principle of our NHS – but under the SNP patients are being forced to find the cash to pay for life-saving cancer treatment.
“In the middle of a cost-of-living crisis, when people are struggling to pay the bills, they shouldn’t also have to worry about the costs of getting sick… More and more Scots are being forced to pay the price for SNP incompetence and failure.”
Yousaf said the NHS was seeing “more and more” patients as it recovered from Covid.
On private care, he acknowledged “worrying trends” but added it was “not unique to Scotland”. He said: “Scotland has a lower rate of take-up of private healthcare compared to England and Wales.
“The rate of people who are self-funding for private in-patient daycare is 16 per cent higher in England, and in Wales it’s 51 per cent higher, where the Labour Party are in charge.”
Earlier in the session, Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross raised concerns about the Police Scotland budget. He pointed to reports that the service did not have the resources to rollout body-worn cameras and was even considering redundancies.
The First Minister insisted communities were "safer" under the SNP and he argued real-terms increases to public service budgets had been "difficult" due to the UK Government's "economic mismanagement".