Davidson Challenges SNP On NHS Spending

Ruth Davidson is to call on the SNP to back a new NHS spending guarantee.

At the Scottish Conservative Party conference in Edinburgh, she will urge the Scottish Government to ensure health spending increases by whatever is highest: inflation, 2% or the consequentials from increases in health spending by the UK Government.

The Tory leader will contrast the health budget in England and Scotland, saying the former is rising faster than it is north of the border.

Ms Davidson will say that between 2010 and 2015, real terms spending on the NHS increased by 1% in Scotland compared to 7% in England.

In cash terms, the budget of the NHS in Scotland rose by 9.4% between 2010/11 and 2015/16, compared to 16.1% in England, she will say.

Ms Davidson will put a personal spin on the case for increased NHS spending, recalling the time she was run over by a truck at the age of five.

She is expected to tell delegates at Murrayfield Stadium: "I want to make it clear - there's a lot of nonsense spoken about the NHS but the truth is that the experience of most patients in our NHS is a good one.

"My sister is an NHS doctor, and I know how amazing they are.

"But the pressures in general practice, in recruitment, in capacity are only getting more intense and we must act.''

She will continue: "It's a fact, not well known, that between 2010 and 2015, the SNP failed to keep up with spending increases on the NHS.

"During that time, spending on health in England rose by 7% - but by only 1% in Scotland.

"Hundreds of millions of pounds promised, but never delivered.

"At a time when the population is ageing, and demand rising, the NHS needs our support.

"That's why we propose today that the Scottish Government backs a new NHS guarantee.

"Spending on our health service should rise each year by whatever is highest: inflation, 2% or by the extra funding coming from Westminster. Every penny passed on.

"That would mean health spending rising by more than £1 billion by the end of this decade.''

A spokesman for Health Secretary Shona Robison said: "We will take no lectures from the Tories when it comes to defending Scotland's NHS - their record south of the border is one of creeping privatisation, austerity and patient charging.

"Health spending per head in Scotland is already 5% higher than in England, and we are committed to increasing front line health spending every year - with the NHS budget in Scotland now at a record level of almost #13 billion, despite Tory cuts. We have also passed on in full every penny of health resource consequentials.''

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