Dr Philippa Whitford has become a public figure in the pro-independence campaign’s bid to persuade voters that the NHS would be threatened by a No vote in the referendum.
She said in a video on YouTube, which has been seen by more than 65,000 people, that a hospital in Gateshead would have to consider cancelling gullet cancer operations because of moves to privatise the NHS in England.
In the video, she said: “The guys who do the upper GI surgery, that is gullet cancer, have been told they are in danger of being told they cannot do gullet cancer because the fee they are paid doesn’t cover how much it costs to do.”
She added: “So this hospital, a big hospital in Gateshead, are thinking about unilaterally declaring ‘We don’t treat gullet cancer any more’. What happens if every hospital in the area does that?”
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However, Sir Leonard Fenwick, the chief executive of the North East NHS foundation, said: “It is just codswallop. Newcastle has referrals from all over the UK and beyond. We are one of the biggest providers of cancer treatments in Europe.
“It is outrageous to mislead the public at large with these kinds of claims.”
Dr Whitford also claimed that England would not have an NHS as we know it in five years’ time due to privatisation. She said if Scots voted No, there would be no NHS north of the Border as we know it in ten years.
The Yes campaign has argued privatisation of NHS services south of the Border will have a negative knock-on effect for the Scottish budget, despite health being devolved to Holyrood.
A source close to the First Minister said: “No-one in the Yes campaign will ever apologise for putting the future of our NHS at the heart of the debate on Scotland’s future.”