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Row breaks out between SNP and Scottish Labour over NHS funding

Shona Robison
Shona Robison

The SNP were berated for presiding over a crisis-ridden NHS as they traded blows with Labour over health.

The Nationalists’ failings on the health service were exposed today, their opponents claimed, with the prospect of fresh £30m cuts at NHS Fife, GPs delivering a warning over patient safety and NHS 24 suffering another setback.

Shona Robison, the Health Secretary and Dundee East candidate, hit back by saying their spending plans dwarf their rivals, with Scottish Labour planning to starve the NHS of £800m.

Jackie Baillie, Scottish Labour’s public services spokeswoman, said their tax rises will fund an increase in primary and social care which will ease the pressure on struggling hospitals.

“The SNP need to come clean about the future of our health service,” she said.

“Nicola Sturgeon can’t keep pretending there isn’t a GP crisis in Scotland. Promising to increase spending on our NHS when it is facing tens of millions of pounds of cuts is just dishonest.

“The SNP are making promises they plan to break on the NHS as health boards face millions of pounds of cuts, family doctors face their worst crisis in a generation and a £50 million IT project faces yet more delays.”

NHS Fife chiefs said they face unprecedented cuts to their budget, as reported in The Courier today.

Meanwhile, the beleaguered the introduction of the new IT system behind the medical helpline NHS 24 is being delayed beyond June.

Ms Robison accused rival parties of being timid on their manifesto commitments for the NHS.

She said the SNP would increase investment by at least £500m over and above real terms increases by the end of the next Parliament, including the extra cash made available through the Barnett formula.

The Health Secretary said: “The SNP will put almost £2bn of additional spending into expanding community services by the end of the parliament, boosting cancer services, supporting health and social care, increasing specialist, GP and nursing staff, and building five new treatment centres across the country.

“Neither Labour nor the Tories – despite their repeated complaints about NHS funding over the last few years, are prepared to invest anything like this amount – with Labour failing even to pass on the funding that comes from NHS spending in England.

“It is a ridiculous situation where George Osborne is putting more into the NHS than the Labour party.”

The Scottish Conservatives’ manifesto, which is a blueprint for opposition rather than government, demands that NHS funding is “increased by 2%, inflation or Barnett consequentials – whichever is higher”.

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