The Scottish Conservatives have demanded that the SNP commits to ensuring Scots who require healthcare in the EU can still access it after Brexit.
The Healthcare (International Arrangements) Bill currently progressing in the UK parliament gives the UK powers to fund and arrange healthcare for British citizens living in the EU after Brexit.
At Holyrood’s Finance and Constitution committee this morning, Scottish Conservative constitution spokesman Adam Tomkins asked Brexit secretary Michael Russell if the Scottish Government would bring forward a Legislative Consent Memorandum on this Bill.
However, Mr Russell failed to confirm that the Scottish Government would consent to the legislation.
The bill will help nearly 200,000 British pensioners living in EU countries to continue to access the healthcare they need and British citizens who require medical treatment each year during holidays.
Crucially it will also ensure Scots are able to access specialist, life-saving treatment in Europe that is currently unavailable in Scotland.
Without a legislative consent motion from the Scottish parliament this treatment would be threatened.
The Scottish Government has not yet published a legislative consent memorandum in relation to this Bill and has previously stated that it will not back any further Brexit-related legislation.
Scottish Conservative constitution spokesman Adam Tomkins said:
“The Scottish Government has threatened to oppose all UK Brexit bills as part of a policy to cause ‘maximum disruption’ as the UK leaves the EU.
“They must not play constitutional games with the reciprocal healthcare bill.
“Failure to support the bill would end arrangements which allow patients living in Scotland to undergo treatment planned by the NHS in another EU country.
“It would send a clear signal they are not interested in preparing for Brexit but using it for their own political purposes.
“Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP must not use Brexit as part of their campaign to break up Britain.
“The SNP must not play politics and support the reciprocal healthcare bill. Scots expect and require them to behave like a responsible government.”
Notes to editors:
Reciprocal healthcare arrangements benefit people in all regions and nations of the UK. The Department of Health and Social Care currently funds and arranges EU reciprocal healthcare for people from all four home nations (including Scotland).
Last week the responsible UK minister said in the House of Commons that: “We have been working for some time now with the devolved administrations and will of course continue to do so to ensure that we legislate for reciprocal healthcare in a way that fully respects the devolution settlements”.
The Welsh Government has undertaken to “play a constructive role” over the passage of this Bill: its LCM process is already underway for this Bill.
The Healthcare (International Arrangements) Bill (known as the ‘reciprocal healthcare bill’) ensures the UK Government will continue to:
* fund healthcare for 190,000 UK state pensioners living in France, Spain and other EU countries.
* pay for treatment for UK residents who fall ill visiting the EU – about 250,000 cases per year which are currently dealt with under the European Health Insurance Card.
* fund healthcare for 10,000 UK workers posted to the EU for the jobs.
* pay for NHS patients in the UK to be treated in the EU – for example, to undergo life-saving procedures that are not available in the UK.