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Healthcare for Yes: new pro-indy NHS group formed

Healthcare staff have formed a new group to campaign for a Yes vote in the independence referendum.

About 100 members, including surgeons, consultant doctors, GPs, pharmacists, dentists, hospital porters and janitors have joined NHS for Yes ahead of September's vote.

The group, which was formally launched in Glasgow today, said only independence can "protect" Scotland's health service from "Westminster spending cuts".

Dr Willie Wilson, co-founder, said: "Independence offers us a unique chance to secure Scotland's health service - to protect it from future Westminster funding cuts, and the damaging impact of privatisation south of the border.

"We are fortunate that health is already devolved to the Scottish Parliament, and it is a shining example of self-government for Scotland demonstrably being far better than Westminster government. But devolution is not enough.

"Privatisation and commercialisation are now rampant in the health service south of the border. This means that competitive tendering is now compulsory and GPs are obliged to consider which hospital offers the best deal rather than which will give the best outcome for patients.

"In Scotland, we are not going down this road - but the more Westminster cuts Scotland's budget, and the more the state withdraws from direct NHS provision in England, the greater Scotland's budget will be squeezed as a consequence because of the way the Scottish Parliament is funded. That is why it is vital that Scotland is in charge of all the revenue raised in Scotland with a Yes vote and independence.

"A Yes vote will give us the protection our health service needs."

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who attended the launch, said: "A Yes vote will best ensure that we can protect our precious NHS, and give us control over other levers such as welfare, the economy and pensions which can help us improve our public health record in Scotland. Yes is the healthy choice for Scotland."

Scottish Labour MSP Jackie Baillie, responding to news of the group's launch, said: "This is the usual negative deceit from the nationalists. It's time for Nicola Sturgeon to be honest with the people of Scotland for a change.

"Our Scottish NHS is already devolved - the decisions about our health service are made here in Scotland. The great thing about being part of the UK means that decisions are made locally but the investment to improve our hospitals and employ more nurses comes from across the larger UK. This protects the funding we have for our vital public services.

"As part of the UK we can have the best of both worlds - a strong Scottish Parliament, with the guarantee of more powers, taking decisions about our health service; and we benefit from the strength, security and stability of being part of the larger UK. Only separation puts this at risk."

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