Scottish independence ‘opportunity‘ to protect NHS

HEALTH secretary Alex Neil has insisted a Yes vote next month is a “golden opportunity” to protect the NHS from privatisation.

Picture: Jane Barlow

Mr Neil told MSPs yesterday that greater privatisation of the NHS south of the Border will see a cut in Scotland’s budget and hit services. The pro-Union camp insist the health service is already fully under the control of the Scottish Parliament and can’t be touched.

Campaigners on both sides of the independence debate gathered outside parliament to voice their concerns over the future of the NHS.

Sign up to our Politics newsletter

Sign up to our Politics newsletter

Mr Neil told MSPs during a Holyrood statement that the “very real” prospect of charges being introduced for some services south of the Border would mean less public cash being spent on the NHS as a whole – with a knock-on effect on public spending in Scotland.

“I don’t think anyone in the chamber can think it’s a realistic prospect that further deep cuts through austerity forced on Scotland by Westminster will leave services unscathed,” he said.

“The solution proposed by the No campaign is that taxes should be hiked in Scotland, to offset these planned Tory cuts. That is unacceptable and a double-whammy for Scotland.”

But Labour health spokesman Neil Findlay accused the health secretary of supporting the “biggest deceit of the referendum campaign to date”.