Scotland's Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, was today joined on the campaign trail by Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood, who has backed a Yes vote and is urging Scots to seize the opportunity of independence to protect Scotland’s NHS from Tory cuts. In Wales, the Labour administration has been forced to cut NHS spending by an estimated 3.6% in real terms during the current Westminster term - cuts which both Carwyn Jones and Welsh Health Minister Mark Drakeford have blamed on cuts coming from Westminster.
The joint call from Ms Sturgeon and Ms Wood comes as the Herald publishes a letter signed by 66 current and former health and support professionals, which warns against the threat of Tory privatisation of the NHS in England. In their letter, they point out the hypocrisy of no campaign politicians making dire warnings about the future of the NHS across the UK - but pretending during the referendum campaign that this threat does not apply to Scotland.
Urging the people of Scotland to vote Yes, they conclude “without independence the fate of the NHS will always be tied to a broken Westminster system which is undermining public services and bolstering private profits.”
Commenting, Ms Sturgeon said: "The significant intervention from dozens of senior health professionals underlies the strength of feeling that our NHS should be properly protected. As these experts point out, warnings across the UK about the threat to the NHS could not be stronger - and Scotland is not immune from this threat. Leanne has quite rightly pursued the Welsh Assembly government for their disastrous cuts to the NHS in Wales - which they blame on the cuts coming from the Tory government at Westminster.
“In recent weeks the No campaign’s credibility has completely collapsed on a range of issues - and people are quite rightly wondering why they are saying one thing about the NHS to people in the rest of the UK, but something completely different to voters in the referendum. Scotland is an immensely wealthy country - richer per head than France, Japan and the UK as a whole - and we can more than afford to properly fund our health service. As we get closer to the referendum, more and more people are waking up to the golden opportunity of a Yes vote to build a fairer society, create job opportunities and protect Scotland’s NHS."
Plaid Cymru Leader Leanne Wood AM said: "I’m delighted to be in Scotland today to support a Yes vote in next week’s referendum. While Carwyn Jones is coming here to tell the people of Scotland that they are too wee and too poor to be independent, I am here to tell Scots that you would be one of the wealthiest countries in the world - and as an independent nation could act as a beacon of progressive politics across the British isles."
"What Mr Jones won’t tell you is that the NHS budget is being cut in Wales - and Mr Jones himself says that this is a direct consequence of budget cuts coming from Westminster. The No campaign are mired in hypocrisy and it is no wonder that their support is ebbing away. My message today is simple - a Yes vote is the opportunity of a lifetime for the people of Scotland to start building a fairer and more prosperous society. I would urge them to grab the opportunity with both hands."