Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont will today call for party politics to be set aside to protect the future of the NHS.
The health service was at the heart of the independence debate as the Yes campaign argued the only way to save the NHS from creeping “privatisation” was for Scotland to split from the rest of the UK.
In a speech in Edinburgh this morning, Ms Lamont will suggest that party leaders establish an expert group to look at a wide range of issues including staffing, resources, performance targets and capacity.
By binding Scottish Parliament parties to its findings, she hopes to stop the NHS being used as a political football.
Ms Lamont will say that all parties agreed during the referendum that the NHS needs to be protected from privatisation, but the real threat comes from rising costs and demographic change.
“For too long, party politics has got in the way of taking long-term decisions over our NHS.
“Time after time, vested interests have been put above patients.
“We know Scottish patients have suffered as a consequence of staff shortages, missed targets and lack of capacity.
“The only way we can move beyond this impasse is to take this issue out of the hands of politicians and put it in the care of the experts, who can work with the public to fix our NHS.
“In order that this becomes more than a talking shop, all political parties should sign up to this process and be bound by the results.”
Ms Lamont will argue that it cannot be business as usual, as the referendum showed the public regards the NHS as “our most precious resource”.
“My offer to Nicola Sturgeon and the other leaders is a way to fix our NHS by putting party politics aside and working together in the best interests of the people of Scotland,” she will say.
“I fear that if we do not take this opportunity, our NHS will continue to decline and patients will pay the price.”