SNP 'rejected help' from UK for NHS patients to be treated in England

Health secretary Michael Matheson is said to have refused an offer from his English counterpart to treat Scottish patients south of the border.

SNP ‘rejected help’ from UK for Scottish NHS patients to be treated in England Getty Images

Scotland’s health secretary rejected an offer of help from the UK Government that would have seen NHS patients travel south of the border for treatment.

The offer of aid is understood to have come from then-UK health secretary Steve Barclay in August as part of a bid to reduce NHS waiting lists in Scotland.

It would have meant Scots facing delays in operations may have been able to get quicker treatment in hospitals in England.

Figures from August show a record one in seven Scots were on a waiting list.

As of September 30, figures reveal that 830,000 people were on a waiting list – a rise of 28% from 2021.

Scotland is experiencing historically high numbers of people on waiting lists.

According to Anas Sarwar, freedom of information requests by the Labour Party show 24,567 people died while on an NHS waiting list in the last year.

The claims of help being snubbed by the Scottish Government, first reported in the Mail on Sunday, have been criticised by the Tories who said the offer was made in good faith.

Health is devolved to the Scottish Parliament and a spokesperson for Matheson said help from UK health officials is unnecessary.

They said: “The Scottish Government did not need to accept any support from the Department for Health and Social Care as we are investing an additional £100m each year, over the next three years, to help reduce inpatient and day-case waiting lists by an estimated 100,000 patients over the next three years.

“In stark contrast to Scotland, over 1 million appointments have been cancelled in NHS England as a result of strike action, with planned care being cut back to cover the £1.3bn bill.

“This is the reality of the NHS in England and all because the UK Government refused to get around the negotiating table.

“That is why the Scottish Government offered to help with UK Government negotiations in order to avoid strike action in England and the significant consequences it has on patients and services.

“Sadly they didn’t take up our offer of help – and today junior doctors in England have announced that they will stage nine more days of strike action.

“Rather than attempting to involve themselves in devolved areas, the UK Government should focus on tackling the many issues facing the NHS in England, and reverse the looming real terms cut NHS England face as a result of the Autumn Statement.”

It comes after junior doctors in England confirmed they will stage the longest strike in NHS history after talks between their union and the UK Government broke down.

Ministers and representatives from the British Medical Association (BMA) have been locked in negotiations for five weeks, trying to find a resolution to the pay dispute.

But the BMA said the Department for Health and Social Care has not been able to put forward a credible offer to end the industrial action.

As a result, the BMA’s junior doctors committee has voted unanimously for strikes in December and January, the union said.

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