ELECTION campaigning will focus on the NHS as Scottish Labour unveils its manifesto with fresh pledges on health spending and Nicola Sturgeon targets privatisation south of the border.
Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy will set out commitments to provide £200 million for mental health care and a further £200 million to help cancer patients at his party’s manifesto launch in Glasgow.
The First Minister will campaign in Irvine, North Ayrshire, where she will highlight the SNP’s support for legislation to “restore” the NHS from privatisation in England.
It follows heated exchanges on the health service between Ms Sturgeon and UK Labour leader Ed MIliband in last night’s BBC General Election “challengers” debate.
The SNP leader accused Mr Miliband of being “so scared to be bold that he’s not even doing the right thing by the NHS, he’s not promising the money the National Health Service needs”.
Mr Miliband responded that there was a “huge difference” between Tory cuts and Labour’s deficit reduction plans, which include a mansion tax on properties worth more than £2 million to help fund the NHS.
A publicly owned, properly funded health service is the hallmark of a decent societyNicola Sturgeon
Scottish Labour’s latest health service pledges are part of a £1 billion package already promised for the health service in Scotland through the tax on high-value properties.
Mr Murphy is expected to say: “It is over 2,000 days since the NHS in Scotland met the SNP’s accident and emergency waiting time target.
“Labour will provide reinforcements for our NHS staff.
“We have said for starters that we would provide funding for one thousand extra nurses.
“Our £200 million Cancer Fund will make sure cancer patients in Scotland get the treatment they need and deserve.
“A quarter of us will experience some form of mental health problem this year. So Scottish Labour will establish a £200 million Mental Health Fund to give support to those who need it.”
Ms Sturgeon will be joined by SNP candidate and NHS consultant breast surgeon Philippa Whitford.
The First Minister has said SNP MPs at Westminster would be prepared to vote on “English only” issues such as health, arguing that any privatisation of the NHS in England has a knock on effect on Scotland’s budget.
She said: “The NHS is our most precious national resource - yet the current Westminster agenda of austerity, privatisation and patient charging in the NHS is threatening the very foundations of the health service south of the border and is putting funding for the NHS in Scotland at risk.
“That’s why the SNP has been clear that our MPs will vote for a bill to restore England’s NHS to its founding principles, ensuring it remains the accountable public service it was always meant to be - and protecting Scotland’s health budget in the process
“A publicly owned, properly funded health service is the hallmark of a decent society - and I will be immensely proud for the SNP to take action in the next parliament to put an end to Westminster’s privatisation and cuts agenda ensure people across these islands have the top quality healthcare they deserve.”
Meanwhile the Scottish Green Party said it would tackle health inequalities by increasing the minimum wage to £10 by 2020 and establishing a Healthy Challenge Fund for healthy eating, walking and cycling projects.
Dr Martin Bartos, Glasgow councillor and Scottish Green MP candidate for Glasgow North, said: “We want to see all major decisions at every level assessed for impact on health inequality.
“We also want to see a community-led approach so that local challenges are tackled through locally inspired projects in the same way the Climate Challenge Fund the Greens helped set up has helped so many communities reduce their carbon footprint.”
Elsewhere on the campaign trail, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg will be in Gordon where he will urge Labour and Conservative voters to back his party in a bid to stop former first minister and SNP candidate Alex Salmond being elected.
He is expected to say: “In 11 Scottish seats, you face a simple choice: do you want an SNP MP or a Liberal Democrat MP?
“In these seats the Liberal Democrat candidate is the only one that is in a position to beat the SNP.
“So if you are someone who is considering voting for the Conservative or Labour candidate, my message to you is this: lend us your vote and we can stop the SNP winning in your constituency.”
The deputy leader of the Scottish Conservatives Jackson Carlaw MSP will be in central Edinburgh to unveil a new campaign poster.
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