Neil: Labour “trying to fool” Scots on NHS
Scotland’s Health Secretary Alex Neil today accused Labour of “trying to fool” Scottish voters about the future of the NHS.
Neil said he is “deeply disappointed” to see Labour politicians in Scotland “trying to fool Scottish voters that the Tories and NHS privatisation pose no threat to public service budgets,” all the while he said their colleagues south of the border are warning of “serious consequences” as a result of Westminster’s reforms.
“The austerity, privatisation and patient charging agenda of Westminster will have a direct impact on how much money we’ll have in future to spend on the NHS in Scotland if we stay in the UK,” he said.
“Patient charges for care and services which were previously free to access sees public money being replaced with private money, which will deliver a consequent reduction to Scotland’s budget if we were to remain in the UK.”
Neil, who will speak at a public meeting organised by NHS for Yes in Glasgow this evening, commented as he joined members of the campaign group on a visit to an optician’s clinic in Toryglen.
NHS for Yes co-founder, Dr Willie Wilson argued that privatisation and commercialisation in the health service are now “rampant” south of the border.
“In Scotland, we have not gone down this road – but the more Westminster cuts Scotland’s budget, and the more the state withdraws from direct NHS provision in England, the greater Scotland’s budget will be squeezed as a consequence because of the way the Scottish Parliament is currently funded.
“Devolution has allowed us to protect the Scottish Health Service from the destructive policies of successive Westminster governments, but only independence will protect the Scottish Health Service from the future budgetary consequences of the accelerating privatisation of NHS England,” he added as he urged voters to “put patients before profits.”
However, former First Minister, Lord Jack McConnell today intervened in the debate around Scotland’s health service as he visited local activists in the Highlands. He called the SNP’s claims that the future of Scotland’s NHS will be decided in Westminster “a massive and deliberate deception,” and pointed out that under devolution the Scottish Parliament has “led the way in health improvement” through measures such as the smoking ban, which was introduced during his time in office.
Local Better Together volunteer, Jim Henderson agreed that the claims were “deliberate scaremongering.”
“I came back to Scotland to work at Raigmore and other local hospitals as part of re-building public dental services. I am proud of Scotland’s NHS and I have watched it develop differently in Scotland with the powers we have over it under devolution, controlled by our Scottish Parliament. There are now no waiting lists for dental care in Inverness and it is just plain wrong and deliberate scare-mongering to now suggest the NHS future is under threat,” he said, adding:
“Any threat would come from declining oil and weakening our economy by separating from the rest of the UK.”