The Scottish Conservatives have accused the SNP of “startling hypocrisy” after it emerged it is relying heavily on private hospitals to prop up Scotland’s ailing NHS.
Figures obtained by the party have revealed thousands of inpatient and outpatient operations funded by the NHS are being carried out by the independent sector in Scotland.
The statistics - published in a Scottish Parliamentary written answer to Miles Briggs MSP, Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary - show that, since 2007, 68,175 NHS-funded operations have been carried out by the independent sector in Scotland.
That’s an average of almost 6,000 a year since the SNP took office.
This is despite Nicola Sturgeon’s statement, when she was Health Secretary, that the independent sector should only be used ‘at the margins’ of the NHS.
According to the figures the numbers of operations carried out by the sector have fallen over the last few years, at the same time that the SNP has totally failed to reduce waiting times.
The Scottish Conservatives are therefore calling for Jeane Freeman, the health secretary, to utilise the sector further for the benefit of patients waiting in pain and suffering.
Miles Briggs, Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary said:
“These figures show that the independent sector has been propping up the SNP’s health service for years.
“That makes the SNP’s position on the matter totally insincere and illogical – the nationalists are guilty of startling hypocrisy.
“It is absolutely right that the independent sector is used to help patients access timely treatment, but the SNP cannot pretend otherwise.
“Waiting times are longer than ever under this SNP administration, and the SNP must do everything possible to reduce them.
“The sad fact is that even with the independent sector bailing them out the SNP’s mismanagement of the health service is causing patients to suffer unnecessarily.
“The SNP must drop their ideological blinkers and run a health service fit for a modern Scotland.”