Swinney to demand extra £1bn from Westminster for NHS in Scotland

The next UK government should generate an additional £1 billion a year for Scotland’s health service, John Swinney has said as he prepares to launch the SNP’s election manifesto.

The SNP leader and Scottish First Minister claimed Labour and the Conservatives present a “clear and present danger” to the future of the NHS.

Ahead of the manifesto launched in Edinburgh on Wednesday, Mr Swinney urged whichever party wins the General Election to commit to spending at least £10 billion extra annually on health across the UK.

A nurse in a hospital ward
The Scottish Government has come under regular attack over NHS performance (PA)

That would see around £1 billion granted to Scotland through Barnett consequentials which the SNP leader said could bolster the NHS north of the border.

He is also urging the future prime minister to resolve pay disputes in NHS England by investing at least £6 billion to match a pay deal agreed for junior doctors and nurses in Scotland.

However, Mr Swinney will face criticism for focusing on the NHS as his political opponents repeatedly condemn the Scottish Government for missing targets on A&E performance and cancer waiting times.

Mr Swinney said: “The SNP manifesto will set out a different approach in line with Scotland’s centre-left values – with an end to Westminster cuts and a major new investment in our health service.

“Our NHS staff were rightly hailed as heroes during the pandemic, but since then the Tory Government has treated them with complete contempt, leading to the junior doctor strike which has England’s NHS on its knees.

“In Scotland we negotiated in good faith and secured a fair deal for junior doctors and nurses.

Deputy leader of the Scottish Labour party Jackie Baillie speaking during the Scottish Labour Party conference at the Scottish Event Campus in Glasgow
Deputy leader of the Scottish Labour party Jackie Baillie said the party was the only one ‘offering hope and optimism for Scotland’s future’ (Jane Barlow/PA)

“Rather than cosying up to the private sector, (Labour’s) Keir Starmer and Wes Streeting would be better served getting round the table with NHS staff and delivering the fair pay rise they deserve.

“Labour need to explain why they think an experienced nurse in Liverpool should be paid £3,000 a year less than we pay a nurse in Livingston.

“The Westminster consensus between Labour and the Tories represents a clear and present danger to the future of the NHS.”

He said only the SNP can “protect the health service”.

Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie said: “The SNP sold off our country’s future with years of chaos and decline. After 17 years of broken promises, missed targets and abandoned manifesto commitments, their pledges aren’t worth the paper they are written on.

“The future of our NHS is under threat with lives lost due to A&E chaos and almost one in six stuck on an NHS waiting list. It’s time for change.

“In this election, Labour is the only party offering hope and optimism for Scotland’s future through our ambitious plans.

“Scottish Labour’s manifesto set out our plan to kick start a decade of national renewal and deliver the change that Scotland needs.

“Labour will cut bills, boost pay, strengthen workers’ rights, boost funding for public services and deliver economic growth.

“This is an opportunity for change we cannot afford to miss – but the only way to make sure the next government is a Labour one is to vote for it.

“Every vote for Scottish Labour is a vote to boot the Tories out of office, put Scotland’s voice at the heart of government, and deliver the change our country needs.”

Scottish Tories have been asked for comment.