Scots are being forced to "remortgage their homes" to pay for private healthcare due to massive waiting times for some NHS procedures, Anas Sarwar has said.The Scottish Labour leader said 40 per cent of patients who underwent hip or knee replacement surgery in Scotland last year had relied on the private sector - at a cost of more than £10,000 each.Speaking at First Minister's Questions, he said 39,000 patients had been treated privately in the last 12 months, in addition to the many more people also using private dental surgeries.It comes after the revelation this week that senior NHS Scotland bosses held a meeting in September where they discussed what actions could be taken to lessen the massive pressure on the health service.According to minutes of the meeting leaked to the BBC, executives discussed the possibility of a "two-tier system" being introduced which could see wealthier patients asked to pay for some treatments.The Scottish Government has denied there is any prospect of the NHS introducing charges for procedures.
Sarwar told MSPs today the number of people paying for private treatments without health insurance was up 72 per cent.He said: "Often, these are people who are forced to borrow money, turn to family and friends, or even remortgage their home to get healthcare that should be free at the point of need."The MSP added that a "staggering" 3,500 people had paid for a hip or knee replacement at an average cost of £12,500.Sarwar continued: "These figures make clear that under the SNP health care in Scotland is already a two-tier system.
This goes against the founding principles of our NHS - a universal health care system, free at the point of need."Nicola Sturgeon responded: "I don't accept we have aRead more on dailyrecord.co.uk