SNP accuse Labour of plotting NHS 'privatisation' and promise Bill to protect the health service

Stephen Flynn
-Credit: (Image: PA Wire/PA Images)

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn has promised to introduce a Bill to protect the NHS within 100 days of the general election.

Flynn claimed the move is necessary as Labour are planning “massive privatisation” of the health service if they win power.

He claimed Keir Starmer’s Labour is “far more interested in selling the NHS than saving it.”

Scottish Labour's deputy leader Jackie Baillie angrily denied the suggestion: “Stephen Flynn is doing the Tories’ work for them as he fabricates outright lies to attack Labour."

Labour also accused the Nationalists of “gimmicks” and said the SNP promised a similar Bill before the last general election.

In his column for the Daily Record, Flynn claimed there is a “consensus” between the Tories and Labour at Westminster over the private sector in the NHS.

He wrote: “The deeply disappointing thing is that the Labour Party is now joining the Tories in this Westminster push for NHS privatisation."

He said of Labour’s shadow health secretary Wes Streeting:

“He has been hinting at his privatisation plans for the best part of two years.

"He has openly discussed “holding the door wide open” to private interests in the NHS, and private healthcare investors have said the Labour Party would “kick-start private sector investment much more proactively than the Tories were able to do.”

He added: “The Labour Party isn’t hiding it anymore either - massive privatisation of the NHS is now their plan.”

“That’s why after the election, in the first 100 days, SNP MPs will bring forward a new law at Westminster to keep the NHS safely in public hands. A new SNP law that will bind the hands of the UK government – ensuring our health service is fully protected as publicly owned, publicly operated, and with its services publicly commissioned.”

The planned bill has echoes of the 'NHS Protection Bill' the SNP pushed ahead of the 2019 general election.

Labour vehemently denies claims that allowing independent hospitals to operate on NHS patients free at the point of need amounts to privatisation.

The SNP Government also uses private hospitals to drive down NHS waiting lists. Health is devolved to Holyrood.

Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie said: "Labour founded the NHS and we will always fight for it, starting by delivering an extra £134 million and 160,000 appointments for Scotland every year.

"It is rank hypocrisy for the SNP to try and position themselves as the defenders of our NHS when they are responsible for the chaos engulfing services in Scotland.

"Under the SNP, more and more people are being forced to pay for private healthcare in order to escape massive waiting lists, with private hospital admissions in Scotland rising four times faster than they are in England.

"After 17 years of SNP failure and 14 years of Tory failure our NHS is on life support and its founding principles are under threat - but Labour can be the change our health service needs in both Westminster and Holyrood.

"While the SNP deflects responsibility and dusts off the same old gimmicks, Labour has a real plan to rescue our NHS."

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