Express & Star

Labour manifesto should rule out ‘creeping privatisation of NHS’ – John Swinney

The SNP leader said Labour’s shadow health secretary Wes Streeting is a ‘clear and present danger’ to the NHS.

John Swinney debates with Anas Sarwar

Labour’s manifesto must rule out the “creeping privatisation agenda” for the health service, John Swinney has said.

With Labour set to unveil its manifesto in Manchester on Thursday, the SNP leader said Labour’s shadow health secretary Wes Streeting is a “clear and present danger” to the NHS.

On Wednesday, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said his party will “never, ever” privatise the NHS.

But he also said Labour would not rule out using the capacity available in the private sector to drive down waiting lists.

The First Minister said SNP MPs would bring forward a Bill to protect the public ownership of the NHS, calling on Labour to back their plans.

Mr Swinney said: “The future of the NHS is a crucial issue in this election – and Labour must use their manifesto launch to U-turn on the creeping privatisation agenda set out by Wes Streeting, and commit to backing the SNP’s Bill to ensure the NHS is always in public hands.

“By carving up England’s NHS and – in his words – ‘holding the door wide open’ to private interests, Wes Streeting is not even hiding his intentions.

“Unless they change course, it is clear that Keir Starmer and Wes Streeting represent a clear and present danger to the NHS.”

He continued: “That a Labour health secretary in waiting is making these Thatcherite arguments shows just how far Labour have strayed from Scotland’s values.

“The SNP’s Bill to keep the NHS in public hands would be our health service’s immunity to Westminster’s creeping privatisation – and if Keir Starmer was not intending on pursuing a privatisation agenda, he would make clear that he supports us.

“The fact he has not yet done so speaks volumes – he now needs to use the launch of his manifesto to back the SNP’s plans, or it will be very clear what Labour has in store for our NHS.

“The SNP will always put Scotland’s values first at Westminster – and nothing could be more important than ensuring our NHS is always kept in public hands.”

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