Greens co-leader Lorna Slater cites 'complex medical history' as reason for having private medical insurance
The co-leader of the Scottish Greens has defended her use of private healthcare rather than relying on the NHS by saying she has a “complex medical history”.
Lorna Slater, who serves as Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity in the SNP-Green government, gave the reason to The Herald after the fact she pays privately for medical insurance was revealed on her tax return.
Slater, who filed her tax return for the 2021-22 year on Tuesday evening, said she had received medical insurance as part of her package while working as an engineer at renewable energy firm Orbital Marine Power.
She left that role after becoming an MSP in 2021 but said she continued to pay for private healthcare because “I have a complex medical history” adding that it is “a very personal decision” to do so.
The Greens have long argued for the health service to remain in public hands and the Scottish Government has repeatedly said the NHS would remain free at the point of need.
When it was revealed last year that NHS managers had discussed the potential to charge better-off patients for treatment both First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and health secretary Humza Yousaf said that option would never be considered by government.
Despite that, patients across the country are facing long waits for treatment, with GP services under considerable strain and a recent Audit Scotland report noting that the pandemic had created an “ever-increasing” backlog of patients waiting for diagnosis and treatment.
Slater and her Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie both published their tax returns on Tuesday after Sturgeon and the leaders of the other main parties made theirs available.
Sturgeon had been pressed to make her returns public after being critical of the scandal surrounding former Tory party chairman Nadhim Zahawi’s tax affairs.
She published seven years’ worth of returns, which showed her salary is her only source of income.