SNP pledge to bring in Bill to protect NHS from privatisation

Stephen Flynn said the party would bring forward the proposed Bill within 100 days of the General Election.

SNP will pledge to bring in Bill to protect NHS from privatisation with 100 days of General Election iStock

The SNP’s leader at Westminster has said his party will bring forward a Bill to protect the NHS from privatisation within 100 days of the General Election.

Stephen Flynn said it is “deeply disappointing” that Labour and the Conservatives are pushing for “massive privatisation” of the health sector.

Flynn said his party would bring forward a Keep The NHS In Public Hands Bill to protect the health service.

However, Scottish Labour’s health spokeswoman, Dame Jackie Baillie, hit back at Flynn’s comments as “outright lies” as she claimed the NHS, which is a devolved matter in Scotland, is on “life support” following the Scottish Government’s handling of waiting lists.

Writing in the Daily Record, Flynn wrote: “In Scotland, this election is a chance to unite to stop the Westminster threat to our NHS. It’s our chance to keep the NHS in public hands and a chance to reject the Westminster austerity agenda that continues to damage Scotland.”

He said SNP leader John Swinney has accepted that the NHS in Scotland faces “huge pressures”, particularly as waiting times in A&E continue to soar, with 9,603 patients waiting longer than the four-hour target to be seen and either admitted, transferred or discharged.

But Flynn added that “the NHS’s problems will never lie in selling it off to the private sector – the answer lies in stopping Westminster austerity”.

He said the law would “bind the hands of the UK government – ensuring our health service is fully protected as publicly owned, publicly operated, and with its services publicly commissioned”.

“That new SNP law will also put a stop to any UK government undermining the principles and protections of the NHS as part of any future trade deals,” he added.

But Dame Jackie, who is also Scottish Labour’s deputy leader, said the proposals are “rank hypocrisy” as she accused the SNP of being “responsible for the chaos engulfing services in Scotland”.

She said her party will “always fight” for the NHS, pledging an additional £134m for Scotland’s health service each year under a Labour government.

“Stephen Flynn is doing the Tories’ work for them as he fabricates outright lies to attack Labour,” she said.

“It is rank hypocrisy for the SNP to try and position themselves as the defenders of the NHS when they are responsible for the chaos engulfing services in Scotland.

“Under the SNP, more and more people are being forced to pay for private healthcare in order to escape massive waiting list, with private operations rising four times faster than they are in England.

“After 17 years of SNP failure and 14 years of Tory failure, our NHS is on life support and its founding principles are under threat – but Labour can be the change our health service needs both in Westminster and Holyrood.”

A previous Private Member’s Bill from former SNP MP Peter Grant on protecting the NHS from privatisation failed to be selected between 2020 and 2021.

Scottish Conservatives health spokesman Dr Sandesh Gulhane said: “This is yet another desperate attempt from the SNP to deflect from their own disastrous management of Scotland’s NHS.

“After 17 years of SNP Government, A&E waiting times are skyrocketing, GP surgeries are closing, ambulances are queuing outside hospitals and seriously ill patients are being treated in corridors.”

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