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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
13 June 2024
Patients ‘forced to go private’ for cancer treatment, Anas Sarwar says

Sarwar speaking at First Minister's Questions | Alamy

Patients ‘forced to go private’ for cancer treatment, Anas Sarwar says

Anas Sarwar has said Scots are “being forced to go private” to pay for cancer treatment.  

Speaking during First Minister’s Questions, the Scottish Labour leader told John Swinney the situation “is the reality under this SNP government”.  

He told the chamber that last year 1,000 rounds of cancer treatment were paid for privately.  

Sarwar criticised some vocal members of the SNP’s backbenches, who he claimed were “heckling cancer patients having to pay private”.

He asked: “Why does the first minister believe people in Scotland should have to pay for their life-saving cancer treatment – 1,000 rounds – because of his party’s failure and incompetence?”

Responding to Sarwar’s question, Swinney said he “does not want anybody to pay for cancer treatment in Scotland” but he had to “face up to the reality of the challenges that are facing our National Health Service”.  

The rate of people self-funding for private healthcare in England is 66 per cent higher than in Scotland, and “in Labour-run Wales it is 13 per cent higher”, he said.

Sarwar also told the chamber the amount of money paid by patients who went private for a hip, knee, or cataract surgery last year was more than £83m.  

He said: “£83m, that’s how much money families had to find in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis because of SNP incompetence and the SNP’s mismanagement of our NHS. It is those who are in pain, are sick, and are injured who are being forced to literally pay the price.”  

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