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The SNP is today calling on Labour to clarify its position on funding for the health service – after the party’s shadow health team refused to commit to spending £125m of health consequentials on the NHS.
Yesterday, Deputy First Minister John Swinney confirmed that all health consequentials that come to Scotland will be passed directly on to the NHS – in a further demonstration of the Scottish Government’s commitment to the NHS.
However, Labour refused to commit to do the same – just as it has refused to match the SNP’s commitment to frontline health spending in previous years. When pressed by Shona Robison in the chamber yesterday, Labour’s Public Health Spokesperson Richard Simpson refused to commit to spending the £125m of health consequentials on the health service – saying simply “we will see.” Labour’s Health Spokesperson Neil Findlay also refused to back the SNP’s commitment to real-term increases in NHS funding in both this and the next parliamentary term.
Commenting, SNP MSP Bob Doris said:
“The Scottish Government’s commitment to our NHS is clear – and that our health service can look forward to a further £125m funding boost from the Scottish Government will be welcomed by staff and patients alike. But staff and patients will now be asking themselves why Labour won’t make the same commitment to pass this funding on to the health service.
“Our NHS is our most vital public resource and needs to continue to be adequately funded if it is to provide the first class care people in Scotland deserve. That Labour’s shadow health team completely refuses to commit to passing on these consequentials or to real-terms funding increases will have NHS staff worried about what Labour has in store.
“Labour’s strange reluctance to detail their spending plans will do nothing to allay the fears of public service workers and people across the country who are worried about what their Cuts Commission has in store – with free prescriptions amongst the policies in their firing line.
“Patients and our hardworking NHS staff simply can’t afford to wait and see what Labour have planned for our public services. They deserve clarity as a matter of urgency.
“Labour must now back the SNP’s funding commitments to our health service – or people in Scotland will quickly come to the conclusion that Labour can’t be trusted on the NHS.”
Notes to editors
The transcript from yesterday’s proceedings in the chamber can be found below:
We have said very clearly that we are committed to a real-terms increase not just in this parliamentary session but in the next one. In the Labour leadership elections hustings debate, Neil Findlay refused to give that commitment. Will he do so now?
I will deal with the leadership election outwith the chamber; that is a different matter. Let us deal with what we are dealing with in here.
On the subject of money, we have learned today that Labour has refused to give a commitment to a real-terms increase and would refuse to pass on the consequentials to health. Will Richard Simpson confirm both those things?
Well, we will see, but the—[Interruption.]
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