Sarwar: NHS is on its knees but Labour will save it again

The Scottish Labour leader also declared his party will ‘never, ever privatise’ the health service.

Anas Sarwar said Labour will act to ‘save the NHS again’
Anas Sarwar said Labour will act to ‘save the NHS again’ (Jeff Moore/PA)

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar accused the SNP of “breaking the NHS” as he said his party will “save” the health service if it wins the General Election.

Setting out his party’s plans to cut waiting times and increase access to GPs, the Glasgow MSP said funding sent to Scotland as part of UK Labour plans for the health service could provide 160,000 more appointments north of the border.

The Scottish Parliament holds the power over health, with funding determined by a population share of the amount spent by the UK Government on the area in England.

Mr Sarwar said the NHS will be safe in Labour’s hands, adding it will never be sold off to private firms.

“The Labour Party will always defend the NHS,” he said. “It’s in my DNA, but it’s also in the Labour Party’s DNA.

“We created the NHS, we saved it in 1997, and we will save the NHS again.”

With the health service struggling in recent years due to soaring A&E waiting times and more than 840,000 people waiting for a test or procedure, Mr Sarwar used his speech in Edinburgh on Wednesday to declare the NHS is “on its knees”.

He added: “The damage inflicted on our NHS by the SNP is an absolute scandal. SNP first minister after SNP first minister, SNP health secretary after SNP health secretary should hang their heads in shame for breaking something so precious to us all.”

He said the damage had created a “two-tier health service” where some patients are forced to access private healthcare for treatment.

Mr Sarwar added: “Let me make this crystal clear to the SNP: A Labour government in the UK, and in Scotland, will never, ever privatise the NHS. It is our baby.

“Stop the scaremongering and the lies. Stop insulting the intelligence of people across Scotland.”

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said Labour will ‘never, ever privatise the NHS’
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said Labour will ‘never, ever privatise the NHS’ (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“We will get out NHS back on its feet.”

He said the “first priority” of a Labour government will be to tackle waiting lists, with plans to deliver millions every year in funding for Scotland.

But the SNP’s Mid Dunbartonshire candidate Amy Callaghan said Mr Sarwar had “some brass neck” to discuss NHS privatisation.

“The SNP have been reversing Labour’s privatisation agenda in Scotland since we took office in 2007 – and Scots are still paying the price for Labour’s toxic PFI legacy.

“With the Labour Party now copying the Tories’ austerity agenda, backing a damaging Brexit that is hammering the health sector’s workforce and creeping NHS privatisation, it’s clear only a vote for the SNP will protect the NHS and put Scotland’s interests first.

“The SNP will always prioritise Scotland’s NHS and defend its founding values.”

She added the SNP is “proud to stand on” the party’s record on the NHS in Government.