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by Louise Wilson
19 June 2024
SNP talk up NHS commitments ahead of manifesto launch

John Swinney will unveil the SNP's manifesto on Wednesday in Edinburgh | Alamy

SNP talk up NHS commitments ahead of manifesto launch

The SNP has called on the next UK Government to spend a minimum of £10bn per year on the NHS, which would deliver an extra £1bn for the health service in Scotland.

John Swinney, who will launch the party’s manifesto this morning, will also urge the UK Government to match recent pay deals reached in Scotland for NHS staff south of the border, which would then deliver £600m in consequentials for Scotland.

The pay deals ensured industrial action was averted in the Scottish NHS, unlike in England where various staff including junir doctors have been out on strike on several occasions.

However to fund the pay deals the Scottish Government previously said it would have to take difficult decisions elsewhere to balance the budget.

But Scottish Labour has accused the SNP of threatening the future of the NHS due to lengthy waiting lists and patients having to go private as a result.

The SNP’s manifesto is expected to have a demand for Scottish independence “page one, line one”.

But Swinney will focus his remarks at the launch on investment in the NHS.

Speaking in advance, he said: “The SNP manifesto will set out a different approach in line with Scotland’s centre-left values – with an end to Westminster cuts and a major new investment in our health service.
“Our NHS staff were rightly hailed as heroes during the pandemic – but since then, the Tory government has treated them with complete contempt leading to the junior doctor strike which has England’s NHS on its knees. In Scotland, we negotiated in good faith and secured a fair deal for junior doctors and nurses.
“Rather than cosying up to the private sector, Keir Starmer and Wes Streeting would be better served getting round the table with NHS staff and delivering the fair pay rise they deserve.”

Scottish Labour’s deputy leader Jackie Baillie, whose party launched its own manifesto on Tuesday, said the SNP had “robbed Scots of opportunities” while in government.

She added: “After 17 years of broken promises, missed targets and abandoned manifesto commitments, their pledges aren’t worth the paper they are written on.

“The SNP’s record in government is woeful, but they are more interested in passing blame than fixing things.

“On the SNP’s watch, the very future of our NHS is under threat with lives being lost due to A&E chaos and almost one in six Scots stuck on an NHS waiting list. The SNP has no vision and no credibility – it’s time for change.”

Elsewhere on the campaign trail, the Scottish Greens will reaffirm their commitment to a monarchy-less independent Scotland ahead of its own manifesto launch on Thursday.

Speaking ahead of a campaign event in Edinburgh, Patrick Harvie said: “The Scottish Greens are the only party that is calling for an independent Scottish republic where power lies with the people rather than being handed down like a family heirloom.

“There are countries all across the Commonwealth who are asking questions about the way they are ruled and who are reconsidering their relationship with monarchy. Scotland must have the chance to do the same.”

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