Minister says an independent Scotland "will never privatise the NHS"

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Health Secretary Alex Neil gave a ministerial statement on the future of the NHS on 19 August 2014.

Mr Neil said: "As the First Minister set out last week, one proposal that we will take to the Independent constitutional convention will be to enshrine the National Health Service as an institution in that constitution.

"This would ensure that in contrast to what is happening south of the border, our Health Service could never be privatised against the wishes of the people."

The health service has become a key battleground in the Scottish independence campaign.

Mr Neil concluded his statement saying: "We choose to ensure that those who that come after us can have the guarantee of a health service, free at the point of need, just as we have benefited from throughout our families' lives."

Scottish Labour health spokesperson Neil Findlay asked if the cabinet secretary is "not being truthful", saying he should accept the greatest threat to the NHS is the SNP and its "£6bn in cuts to public spending under their plans to break up the country".

Mr Findlay added that the SNP's approach to health was the most "scandalous deceit of this referendum campaign".

The cabinet secretary hit back saying the SNP would "embed and enshrine" the NHS in its constitution and "Scotland will never have a privatised health service ever".

Barnett consequentials means an extra £1.3bn was coming to the Scottish government to spend on health, according to Conservative health spokesperson Jackson Carlaw.

Mr Carlaw said if Mr Neil could not highlight any UK reduction in health spending, then he is guilty of a "shamefully last minute attempt to scare vulnerable voters into voting yes".

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