Nicola Sturgeon under fire over private firms doing 'routine operations' in NHS hospitals

Nicola Sturgeon has come under fire over claims that private firms are being brought in to carry "routine operations" at the heart of Scotland's NHS.

The First Minister insisted that private sector is used at the "very margins" of the NHS north of the border.

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But Labour leader Richard Leonard said during First Ministers Questions today that a private firm is being lined up to carry out knee and hip operations at Glasgow's Gartnavel Hospital.

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"Private firms are being brought in by this Government to carry out routine operations at the heart of our public service," Mr Leonard said.

"Last night I spoke to an NHS clinician - he had contacted us to raise his concerns about a plan to contract out, to a private healthcare provider, knee and hip operations at Gartnavel hospital in Glasgow.

"He told that the hospital's own clinicians have been cut out of the planning of this, that the health board has presented it as a fait accompli and that it was directed from Edinburgh.

"There is anger among NHS clinicians and local NHS staff who work at Gartnavel, they are concerned that they have not been involved in the setting of clinical priorities or in carrying out these procedures and if there are complications they will be expected to step in.

"Continuity of care is critical, no wonder the clinician I spoke to said to me last night that he was deeply uneasy about this."

Ms Sturgeon said the Government was ready to listen to the concerns of clinicians.

But she said that NHS spending on the private sector represents 0.6% of the health budget - compared with 7.3% in England.

She added: "It was used to a greater extent under the last Labour administration."

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Ms Sturgeon added that she "nationalised" Stracathro hospital in Angus which had been earmarked for use by the private sector.

"I'll take no lectures from Labour on these issues," she added.