The Scottish Green minister Lorna Slater has revealed she uses private healthcare, enabling her to jump NHS queues amid record backlogs.

Ms Slater’s “private medical and dental insurance” was first disclosed in her tax return for 2021/22, which her party published without fanfare on Tuesday. 

An engineer before entering politics, she received the perk through her job with the renewable energy firm Orbital Marine Power Ltd.

The Scottish Green party co-leader stopped working for Orbital Marine in June 2021, six weeks after being elected as a Lothians list MSP.

However she confirmed to the Herald that she continues to use private health insurance.

She said yesterday: “That was a benefit I received as part of my previous employment. 

“I have a complex medical history so I still continue to pay into my medical insurance.”

Asked if she looked hypocritical, given the government in which she serves is wrestling with record NHS queues which she was able to jump, she said: “I have a complex medical history. That’s a very personal decision. Thank you.”

However hundreds of thousands of people with complex medical histories rely solely on the NHS.

The watchdog Audit Scotland reported last year that the Covid-19 pandemic had created an “ever-increasing” backlog of NHS patients waiting for diagnosis and treatment.

The Herald:

SNP Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said in October it would take at least five years to return the NHS to previous performance levels.

The Scottish Greens argue for investment in public health services.

“Our health service must always be in public hands, and must be given the resources it needs,” the party’s website says.

Referring to the impact of the pandemic on staff and “the backlog of cases”, it goes on: “We must properly fund our health services so that they can meet this challenge.”

The Scottish Greens also back “equal access” to dental services, and say they want to work with the profession “to address the backlog of cases” caused by the pandemic.

Ms Slater, 47, who was born in Canada and moved to Scotland in 2000, has spoken before of being diagnosed with autism.

She was made minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity in August 2021.

Tory MSP Annie Wells said: “While everyone is entitled to use private healthcare if they have the means, Lorna Slater is a member of a government that has brought Scotland’s NHS to its knees, so it will jar with ordinary Scots that she is able to bypass the queues for treatment that they are forced to endure.

“Her decision also smacks of hypocrisy given the Scottish Greens’ hostility to private enterprise and the concept of economic growth.

“This is unlikely to go down well with her extremist left-wing colleagues.”

Nicola Sturgeon disclosed seven years of income tax returns on Monday, prompting all the other leaders at Holyrood to do likewise.

Ms Slater and her Scottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvie were the last to do so, and they were slipped out on the Scottish Green party website on Tuesday evening. 

The returns cover the financial year 2021/22, and so captured most of Ms Slater’s first year as an MSP.

Her return shows she had private medical and dental insurance worth £781 in her final weeks with Orbital Marine, when she was working three days a week on tidal turbines.

It suggests her annual benefit was worth several thousand pounds, and that she would need to spend a similar sum to maintain it.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was recently criticised for having used private healthcare in the past.