The Scottish Health Secretary has challenged Labour to come clean over the impact of privatisation of the English NHS on Scotland.
Alex Neil threw down the gauntlet as Labour leader Ed Miliband prepares to give a keynote speech in Glasgow today.
Labour south of the border has warned that privatisation could “eventually destroy everything that is precious” about the NHS.
Mr Neil said it was estimated that 50% of the NHS in England will be run by private companies by 2020.
He warned that every £10 cut in the NHS budget resulted in £1 lost from Scottish funding through so-called Barnett consequentials.
“Mr Miliband knows perfectly well how Scotland is funded under devolution – now he must come clean on the huge impact that NHS privatisation in England will have on this budget,” Mr Neil said.
“It was of course Labour who opened the floodgates on privatisation when they were last in office. Now Ed Miliband and his colleagues are going round telling everyone that privatisation will eventually destroy everything that is precious about the NHS.
“Does he seriously expect the people of Scotland to believe that the objective of this privatisation is to increase public spending?
“Cuts to our NHS budget as a result of Westminster privatisation is a risk Scotland doesn’t need to take.”
But Scottish Labour health spokesman Neil Findlay called Mr Neil’s comments a “shocking campaign tactic”.
“It’s an absolute disgrace that the SNP think it’s acceptable to use major issues such as our health service to try and bolster their flailing independence campaign,” he said.
“The bottom line is that as the Scottish Government, the SNP has the power to decide how to pass on cuts to funding. There is no ring-fencing of the Barnett consequentials, if the Tories plan to privatise our most beloved national institution in England then because of our devolved health service the SNP can stop this from impacting on Scotland.”