SNP is urged to hand windfall to Scottish NHS

George Osborne at Homerton University Hospital in London. Picture: Reuters

George Osborne at Homerton University Hospital in London. Picture: Reuters

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THE SNP government is being urged to commit a £125 million windfall to the NHS in Scotland after George Osborne revealed an extra £2 billion is to be pumped into the health service south of the border.

This means Scotland will in turn receive about £125 million in funding “consequentials”.

Treasury Secretary Danny Alexander said yesterday: “I’m calling on the Scottish Government to publicly commit to spend that extra £125 million on health in Scotland, and not to allow it to be used to support general expenditure. Failing to invest this extra money in health would be to let down the people of Scotland.”

Finance Secretary John Swinney announced more than £250 million in extra funding for the NHS in his budget earlier this month. A spokesman for Mr Swinney said yesterday: “We have also committed to increasing the health service revenue budget year on year throughout the terms of this and the next parliament.

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“We look forward to seeing the detail of any announcement from the Treasury, but George Osborne and Danny Alexander – who has been an architect of NHS privatisation south of the Border – have form for sleight-of-hand on these issues, where promised ‘new money’ turns out to be no such thing.”

Mr Osborne has insisted he can afford to inject more cash into the NHS in the face of Labour accusations that he is making billions of pounds in unfunded spending commitments.

The Chancellor confirmed that he would set out plans for an additional £2bn a year for frontline services when he delivers his set-piece Autumn Statement on Wednesday.

The investment is to be supplemented by money raised from fines imposed on banks in the Libor rate-rigging scandal to improve GP services.

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“Because we have a strong economy and we have got the public finances under control, we can afford to put £2bn into the frontline of the NHS across the United Kingdom,” he said.

“And, indeed, we can go further and use those fines that have been paid by the banks for a permanent improvement in GP services.

“This is a down-payment on the NHS’s own long-term plan. It shows you can have a strong NHS if you have a strong economy.”

For Labour, shadow chancellor Ed Balls said the government created a crisis through its re-organisation of the NHS and accused Mr Osborne of racking up billions in spending commitments without any explanation of how he could pay for them.

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“This is a typical Tory pattern, a winter crisis and then crisis money coming after,” he said.

“The Conservatives are coming along now with unfunded commitments. The deficit is huge. They are making unfunded commitments. The Tories are really putting the NHS in danger.”

Mr Balls said Labour would put a further £2.5bn into the NHS beyond government plans paid for in part by a “mansion tax” on homes worth more than £2 million.

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