Scotland’s largest NHS board spent more than £20 million on private health care last year, new figures have revealed.
While the overall amount boards spent using private and independent health care providers fell to £72 million in 2016-17, the bill for Greater Glasgow and Clyde amounted to £20.4 million.
Both NHS Lanarkshire and NHS Lothian spent more than £9 million, while at NHS Tayside the costs amounted to over £8.8 million, figures from the Scottish Government showed.
NHS Shetland had the lowest spending on private health care at £153,000.
The spending details were revealed by Health Secretary Shona Robison in response to a parliamentary question from the Scottish Conservatives.
Ms Robison said: “NHS territorial boards continue to make limited use of the independent and private sector for health care services. Total spend decreased from £78.5 million in 2015-16 to £72 million in 2016-17.”
In government the SNP has been critical of the use of private companies in the NHS.
Tory health spokesman Miles Briggs said: “Listening to the SNP you would think private healthcare was an evil that isn’t welcome in Scotland.
“Yet now we see it spends millions every month using it to help out the NHS.”
Mr Briggs said the Conservatives believed that independent providers could play a “vital role in reducing waiting lists, and helping out an increasingly under-strain NHS”.
He added: “It’s time the SNP admitted that, rather than reverting to its dogmatic playbook to appease the extremes of the independence movement.
“This is just the latest example of SNP hypocrisy, and the people and patients of Scotland are seeing right through it.
“The Scottish Parliament’s Health Committee is hearing more and more cases of Scottish patients being encouraged to go private in order to receive the care they do desperately need - resulting in people dropping off NHS waiting lists and not being recorded within the NHS.”