THE Scottish independence referendum could be the most significant date for the NHS since it was founded by Aneurin Bevan almost 70 years ago, according to Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood.
The Party of Wales has backed the SNP’s warning that “privatisation” of the NHS in England could lead to a cut in health funding for the devolved regions - a claim dismissed as “scaremongering” by the unionist parties.
Speaking ahead of her visit to Scotland on Monday, Ms Wood said: “Wales is very proud of being the birthplace of the NHS.
“Aneurin Bevan found his inspiration for free, universal healthcare in his home town in the Welsh Valleys where miners came together and chipped in to ensure the community could be cared for.
“Those remain as modern values in our beloved health services in Wales and Scotland.
“In England they have decided to pursue a model that is based on privatisation - which is their right to do. But the repercussions for Wales and Scotland could be significant.
“The cuts that could follow for our budgets in Scotland and Wales will make it very challenging and threaten our ability to implement the values of our respective nations.
“It is fundamentally undemocratic that people in Wales and Scotland elect governments that wish to keep public services in public hands but that mandate is then overturned in Westminster as a result of Whitehall having its hands on the purse strings.
“Scotland’s referendum and its outcome will touch all aspects of Scottish life but none more so than the NHS. September 18 could very well turn out to be the most significant date for the NHS in Scotland since it was created almost 70 years ago.”
Ms Wood also attacked the UK government’s “refusal to protect the NHS from potential private US interests” in the latest EU trade deal with America, known as TTIP.
“Other EU states have secured exemptions for important sectors from potential private US involvement,” she said.
“France for example has protected its film industry but the Tory-led Westminster government has refused to ensure similar protection for the NHS. It is inconceivable that an independent Scotland would act in the same way.
“The direction of travel for healthcare under Westminster rule is clear. Even Labour in London have conceded that privatisation is accelerating in the NHS in England.
“The only way to secure Aneurin Bevan’s legacy in the NHS is if Scots have the tools of independence to do so.”