THE nation will be forever grateful for the selfless heroics of the NHS staff we all relied upon during the pandemic.

But now our cherished NHS faces a deeply uncertain future because of increasing US-style private healthcare.

The Tories, of course, deny it – but scratch the surface and you find overwhelming evidence of their true intentions.

For example, in 2017, Boris Johnson’s former senior adviser Dominic Cummings claimed Michael Gove had wanted to privatise the NHS, Boris Johnson wished to charge people for health services and Iain Duncan Smith advocated moving to a social insurance system.

The National: Michael GoveMichael Gove

The reality is that Westminster Tories can and will put the NHS on the table in future post-Brexit trade deals – particularly with the US. The Tory Government could have passed a law that the NHS will be protected. But they did the opposite.

They voted to scrap an amendment to their Trade Bill which would have prevented any future trade deal from undermining or restricting the UK’s ability to provide “a comprehensive publicly-funded health service free at the point of delivery”.

If the Tories are not planning to open the NHS to private trade, why vote against a law that would rule it out?

READ MORE: Shona Robison: Young and old need protection from Westminster hammer blows

The British Medical Association has said “the NHS in England has been forced down a route of increased marketisation and privatisation”.

In Scotland, because of the Scottish Parliament, we’ve been able to resist this creeping privatisation.

But Boris Johnson has called devolution “a disaster”. Now his government has passed a law that gives ministers the power to open up the NHS to “market access principles”.

And even senior Tories are ringing the alarm bells. Their former prime minister John Major giving his view of the then Tory leaders in 2016 said: “The NHS is about as safe with them as a pet hamster would be with a hungry python.”

The risk to Scotland’s NHS increases every day Scotland remains under Westminster control.

This article was part of our eight-page independence special, with one million copies printed and distributed. Click here to find out more