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Salmond warns only Yes vote will protect NHS going private

The chairman will resign at the end of the year
The chairman will resign at the end of the year

First Minister Alex Salmond has claimed that only a Yes vote in the independence referendum will protect the NHS in Scotland from Westminster cuts.

Mr Salmond will give a speech in Liverpool today where he will tell an English audience that the “privatisation and fragmentation” of the health service has increase since he was in the city in 2011.

Mr Salmond will claim that while the privatisation of English services is bad for patients south of the border, it is also potentially damaging for those who live north of the border.

Speaking ahead of visit, Mr Salmond said: “Scotland is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, with strong public finances.

“But under the Westminster system, cuts to spending in England automatically trigger cuts in Scotland.

“So if private money replaces public funding in England, our budget will also be slashed no matter what we want or need.

“With independence we will have control of both our tax system and the budget for public services so we can protect the NHS and other vital public services from Westminster privatisation.”

Scottish Labour’s health spokesman Neil Findlay drew on comments of outgoing BMA Scotland chairman Dr Brian Keighley, who recently described the SNP’s management of the Scottish NHS over the past five years as a “car crash”.

Mr Findlay said: “It is a mark of how desperate the first minister has become that he is introducing the privatisation of the NHS as a campaign issue when everyone knows it is devolved to the Scottish Parliament and the Tories can’t get their hands on our hospitals and health centres.

“The Yes campaign has failed to make the case for Scottish independence and has resorted to negative scaremongering and misinformation. The people of Scotland won’t be fooled and either will the people of Liverpool.”

Dr Willie Wilson, co-founder of the pro-independence group NHS for Yes, said: “We agree wholeheartedly with Alex Salmond that only independence can protect Scotland’s health service from Westminster spending cuts and the damaging impact of the privatisation now taking hold south of the border.”

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