Scottish independence: Health powers needed - Neil

Health Secretary Alex Neil. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Health Secretary Alex Neil. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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SCOTLAND must be allowed to “take control of the levers” needed to tackle poverty and cut inequalities, health secretary Alex Neil has said.

Speaking ahead of a visit to see new babies in Wishaw to mark the 65th birthday of the NHS, Mr Neil said the SNP remained committed to providing healthcare free to everyone.

But he also used his comments to push for independence, saying Scotland could only rid itself of inequalities in health if had control of powers currently in the hands of Westminster.

Mr Neil said: “As we move towards the historic moment of the 2014 referendum, I can guarantee that independence will help maintain Scotland’s NHS as the wonderful institution it is today.

“Scotland’s NHS is a both a tribute to the kind of society Scotland is, and the kind of society we must continue to aspire to be.

“Anyone who comes for treatment will get the care they need – regardless of whether they are rich or poor.

He added: “It is simply not good enough that someone’s life expectancy should depend on where they are born, or the income of their parents.”