SCOTLAND’S Health Secretary has rejected calls by the Tories for auditors to investigate a NHS discussion on introducing a “two-tier” health service as “laughable”, saying it would be a waste of the public spending watchdog's time.

Humza Yousaf also told MSPs the founding principles of the NHS as a universal service, free at the point of use were “not up for debate, nor indeed discussion”.

It comes after the BBC reported minutes of a meeting of NHS leaders in Scotland in September included discussions on charging for treatment, which contained a suggestion to “design in a two-tier system where the people who can afford to go private”.

In answer to questions from MSPs at Holyrood, Yousaf described it as an “informal” meeting with a “small number of NHS directors”, adding that the draft note of the discussion “does not represent the view of NHS chief executives”.

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Scottish Tory health spokesman Dr Sandesh Gulhane called for Yousaf to commit to asking Audit Scotland – which has the remit of ensuring public money is spent properly - to “investigate the controversy and details” surrounding the meeting.

In a statement, Tory MSP Craig Hoy also said an Audit Scotland probe was necessary to cast light on the “controversy surrounding this meeting”.

He said: “We need Audit Scotland to investigate the controversy surrounding this meeting.

“The leaked minutes clearly suggest NHS leaders were given the green light to think the unthinkable – including patient charging. We must urgently find out why that was.

“Presumably this came from the top and senior ministers gave them the political cover to examine every eventuality to reform our NHS."

But Yousaf told MSPs: “It is genuinely laughable that Dr Sandesh Gulhane thinks this is a really good use of Audit Scotland’s time, to investigate an informal meeting where one NHS chief executive was there.

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“And of course, as I’ve said, it does not represent the view neither of NHS chief executives, nor NHS chairs, nor the chief executive of the NHS, nor the chief operating officer, and may I say, most importantly, by anybody in Government, because we are the ones of course that decide the policy of the NHS.

“No, I won’t ask Audit Scotland. He can ask Audit Scotland if they think that is good use of their time.”

He also told Gulhane that the threat of NHS privatisation comes from Westminster after Tory MPs were reportedly whipped to vote against House of Lord amendments to rule out potential NHS deals in the future.

He added: “And of course, one of those individuals not present in the Chamber today, was one Douglas Ross MP.

“So the threat of privatisation doesn’t come from this SNP government, it comes from the Conservatives refusing to rule out the NHS in any future trade deal, and that is where the threat to the privatisation of the NHS comes.”

Yousaf also told MSPs: "The founding principle of our National Health Service as a universal service, free at the point of use, publicly funded and publicly delivered for all – they are not up for debate nor indeed discussion."

And he went on: "While reform is undoubtedly necessary in the face of a global pandemic, that reform will never, ever be in contradictions of the founding principles of our NHS."