More NHS patients should be sent to private hospitals to cut waiting times, the Scottish Conservatives have said.
Waiting times in Scotland have hit a new high, with more than 23,000 patients waiting longer than the 12-week target for treatment.
A £850m three-year plan to improve waiting times in Scotland will see the NHS paying for more staff, clinics and operations including cataract procedures, hip and knee replacements and general surgery.
According to The Times, the Tories want the government to increase its use of private hospitals for NHS patients.
When the Scottish parliament reconvened in 1999 there were 397 NHS operations performed in the independent sector. Over the next decade this rose almost every year to reach more than 6,000.
The waiting times improvement plan pledges “more efficient and strictly limited use of the independent sector’s contribution to short-term capacity, though only where that is required”.
Miles Briggs, the Scottish Conservative health spokesman, said it is “absolutely right that the independent sector is used to help patients access timely treatment.”