The SNP has demanded Labour commit to protecting funding for NHS Scotland if Sir Keir Starmer becomes Prime Minister and implements privatisation reforms to the health service in England.

Deputy First Minister Shona Robison said she was "beyond disgusted" to hear how Labour planned to change the service south of the Border.

Her demand follows several interventions from Labour’s shadow health Secretary Wes Streeting in which he set out plans to allow more private firms to been involved in how the service is delivered south of the Border.

Scottish health secretary Neil Gray told ITV Border in February "there are examples" of the private health care sector providing free care in the NHS in Scotland currently and that he would be "be happy to consider" extra use of private firms if it "provides free healthcare" to drive down NHS waiting times.

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Earlier this week Mr Streeting stated a Labour government will not provide additional funding to the NHS unless the private sector is allowed access to the service. He had previously pledged to "hold the door open" to private interests as part of Labour's NHS reform plans.

The Herald: Humza Yousaf and deputy FM Shona RobisonFirst Minister Humza Yousaf and Deputy First Minister Shona Robison.  Photo PA.

Ahead of campaigning today alongside the SNP’s candidate in North East Fife, Stefan Hoggan-Radu, Ms Robison said it would be "outrageous" if NHS Scotland does not receive its fair share of funding because NHS Trusts in England aren’t willing to sign up to ill-defined privatisation reforms.

“Like people across Scotland, I am beyond disgusted to see Keir Starmer's Labour Party proudly announcing plans for privatisation reforms to the NHS. It’s a disgrace," she said.

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“The SNP will always stand by our steadfast commitment to protect the NHS in Scotland, keep it in public hands and ensure it is free at the point of use. 

“However, with the future of the NHS at risk from Westminster, it’s time for Labour to be straight with people in Scotland about what a right wing Keir Starmer government would mean for them.

"Will Scotland’s NHS get the full amount of funding it is entitled to under the Barnett formula if NHS Trusts in England don't get funding because they refuse to sign up to Labour’s ill-defined privatisation reforms?

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“It would be outrageous if the funding for Scotland’s NHS gets slashed because Labour is doing whatever it takes to appeal to Tory voters in the England - it would underline, once again, that Scotland will always be ignored by the Westminster parties.

“At the general election, it is clear that only a vote for the SNP is a vote to demand the funding our NHS needs and protect Scotland's NHS from Westminster privatisation.”

Mr Streeting wrote in The Sun this week that the NHS in England would not get additional funding without the “major surgery” of reform under Labour which would include bringing in private companies to help cut waiting times.

He insisted he would not be put off by “middle-class lefties” who cry “betrayal” over using the private sector to bring down waiting lists – adding he was “up for the fight” with NHS unions.

It was the latest in a series of bold statements about the health service by Mr Streeting, who said Labour will only give the NHS an extra £1bn pounds if medics work weekends to ensure more patients are seen.

He wrote in The Sun: “The NHS is a service, not a shrine. It is judged by how well it serves the public, not how heavy a price we’re paying for failure.”

But he was warned that his plan was not a permanent fix to the health service’s problems and that use of the private sector could “bake in” the health inequalities which already exist in the NHS, with more private hospitals based in affluent areas such as London and the south east.

He later told the BBC that the “howls of outrage” from those who are concerned about NHS privatisation are “water off a duck’s back” because: “I don’t think I could look someone in the eye who’s waiting for months and months, sometimes over a year in pain and agony for treatment, and tell them that they should wait longer because my principles trump their timely access to care.”

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar yesterday pledged that a Labour government would give an additional £134million to the NHS in Scotland to cut hospital waiting lists through cracking down on tax dodgers.

Under proposals from Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves, a further £1.6 billion will be spent on health under a Labour government to reduce NHS waiting lists in England - resulting in an expected £134 million in Barnett consequentials for Scotland.

The Scottish Government, which controls the NHS north of the border, has repeatedly said it will pass on any and all health consequentials received to the service.

First Minister Humza Yousaf last week pledged to reduce the number of patients waiting too long for NHS treatment as he announced that £30 million will be spent on tackling the issue over the next three months.

By the end of 2023, there were 824,725 people in Scotland waiting for a planned procedure, an outpatient appointment, or diagnostic tests such as CT scans and colonoscopies on the NHS.

The statistics from Public Health Scotland revealed that this included 17,761 Scots who had been waiting 18 months or more to be admitted to hospital for inpatient or day case treatment, despite a previous pledge to eradicate such lengthy waits by September 2023.

More than 7000 had been waiting at least two years, while 1,446 patients had been on the list for three years or longer.

Scottish Labour deputy leader and health spokesperson Jackie Baillie said “The SNP’s dishonest attacks on Labour reek of desperation.

 "The future of Scotland’s NHS is under threat because of the SNP’s disastrous mismanagement, with more and more Scots being forced to pay for private healthcare to escape record waiting lists. 

"Labour will not only protect our NHS but renew and rebuild it so that it is fit for the future.  Labour’s plans to take on tax dodgers will deliver £134 million pounds every year for our NHS.

 "While the SNP snipes from the sidelines, Scottish Labour is focused on delivering for the people of Scotland by tackling NHS waiting lists, cutting bills, making work pay and strengthening our economy."