SNP raises concerns about workforce and privatization as NHS celebrates 75th birthday

To mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of the NHS, the SNP has raised fears that healthcare could be pulled out of public hands as SNP Deputy Westminster leader Mhairi Black put pressure on Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden over the matter.

Ms Black, who announced yesterday that she is stepping down as an MP at the next general election, questioned Labor and Conservative stances on the role of the private sector in the NHS.

She said: “As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of health services in the UK I would like to reflect on two quotes from two people. The first is, “It’s about leveraging the private sector more, something we should be very comfortable with.”

Read more: Mhairi Black will step down as MP in next election

“The second quote is ‘people go into the private sector as NHS patients and we could do more of that’.”

“May I ask the deputy prime minister which quote is from the prime minister and which is from the leader of the opposition?”

In response, Mr Dowden said: “How sorry he is to hear that (she) will be stepping down at the next election.”

He added, “She and I joined this house at the same time and I know she contributed a lot to her party and this place.”

“When it comes to the NHS, I will not be lecturing from either party on this. It was there for me.

“I was born in an NHS hospital, my children were born in an NHS hospital. It was there for me and my family and this government has provided record funding for it.”

Referring to Mr Dowden’s “kind words” on her impending departure from the House of Commons, Ms Black told him not only would we be coming to Westminster at the same time, but “pretty sure we’ll be leaving at the same time,” she broadcast MPs on all sides laugh.

Read more: Calderwood: Scotland’s Covid response has been ‘late and slow’

Ms Black said: “The biggest health problem on these islands is the workforce.”

“Research shows that Brexit has exacerbated the UK’s shortage of doctors. The number of European nurses registering to work in the UK has fallen by 90% following the Brexit referendum.

“What more is needed for both him and the Labor Party to acknowledge the damage Brexit is doing to our healthcare system?”

In response, Mr Downden cited “an extra £2.4billion for our landmark NHS workforce plan” announced by the UK Government this week.

He added: “This is the first time in NHS history that this has happened.

“And if you look at the tally since that party came to power it’s almost 40,000 more doctors and over 50,000 more nurses – once again the Conservative Party has delivered for the NHS.”

The SNP also urged Labor to rule out privatizing the NHS after the party’s former Prime Minister Tony Blair called on Westminster to expand the role of the private sector in healthcare – and to redirect NHS patients to paid private healthcare.

READ ALSO: Michael Matheson Praises NHS On 75th Anniversary

The Institute for Public Policy Research warned today that increasing reliance on private health care could lead to a “two-tier system” in which the quality of health care, and therefore life chances, depend on what one can afford.

Former Tory Health Secretary Sajid Javid has called for a review of the NHS, calling the current model “unsustainable”.

Martyn Day, SNP health spokesman, said: “These statements by Tony Blair calling for an expanded role for the private sector in the NHS will set off alarm bells in Scotland.”

“While healthcare is devolved, Scotland is not immune to the impact of damaging financial decisions imposed by Westminster.”

“Brexit, Conservative cuts and the creeping privatisation, fragmentation and underfunding of the NHS in England have hurt all four national health services in the UK.”

“Keir Starmer and the other Blairites who lead the pro-Brexit Labor party must rule out further privatization and underfunding of the NHS – and finally acknowledge the damage Brexit is doing to NHS staff and services.”

Britain’s Labor leader has insisted his “government will make the NHS fit for the future” when he becomes Prime Minister.

Sir Keir wrote in the Mirror, adding: “Introducing new technology, focusing on preventing disease rather than just treating it, and ensuring far better care for the community – these are the building blocks for a better, future-proof solution.” “Healthcare.”

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