The chair of NHS Orkney has said he will back independence to protect the health service.
John Ross Scott, a former Liberal Democrat leader of Scottish Borders Council who has lived in Orkney since 2003, said he was “extremely optimistic” about the prospects of a yes vote in next month’s referendum.
Speaking in a personal capacity, he said: “I’ve been on a 40 year quest for devolution and having seen the benefits of devolved powers to Scotland come to fruition and prove so successful, independence is the next step. But the journey won’t end there.
“The Scottish Government’s track record of investment in health and not being sucked into the creeping privatisation agenda of healthcare south of the border highlight exactly why the future of the NHS in Scotland can only be secured with a yes vote.”
Welcoming the endorsement on a visit to Kirkwall, deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Scotland’s budget has already been subject to Westminster cuts and Labour shadow health secretary Andy Burnham has warned that the NHS south of the border will be pushed ‘off the cliff edge’ by Tory privatisation and cuts.
“The No parties’ denial of the risks we are facing would see us sleepwalking into cuts in the event of a no vote. This is a risk we absolutely cannot take.
“We must vote yes to protect our NHS for future generations of people here in Orkney and across Scotland.”
A Scottish Liberal Democrat spokeswoman said: “Whilst the vast majority of Scottish Liberal Democrats support our long held aspirations of home rule for Scotland as part of a federal UK, we respect John Ross Scott’s right to support a different approach.”