SCOTTISH Labour have been told to urgently condemn an "unconscionable attack" on a health union by Keir Starmer’s shadow health secretary.

SNP MSP Emma Harper has written to Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar and shadow Scottish health secretary Jackie Baillie urging them to distance the Scottish party from Wes Streeting’s anti-trade union comments.

On Sunday, the Ilford North MSP launched an attack on the British Medical Association (BMA), which represents doctors and medical students in the NHS.

He accused the union of “hostility” and voting for policies that “make them look like they're living on a different planet”.

READ MORE: Nurses accept increased pay offer and call off strikes

Appearing on a Telegraph front page titled “Labour vows war on health union”, the Labour politician said he was treated like a “heretic” by the BMA for pointing out the “appalling state of access to primary care”.

“I think the BMA does doctors no favours when they vote for motions that look like they’re living on a different planet and, worst of all, aren’t really thinking about the best interests of patients,” he said after English GP representatives last month voted to cut GP core opening hours to 9am to 5pm.”

In a letter seen by The National, Harper, who is a registered nurse, said the rhetoric made Labour look like a “Tory tribute act”.

She wrote: “I was shocked and appalled by the remarks on Sunday of Wes Streeting, the Labour health spokesperson, when he branded health unions as ‘hostile’ and suggested doctors are trying to lower standards for patients in return for a higher pay increase.

“It is frankly insulting to suggest that doctors want to lower standards for patients when we all witnessed first-hand the incredible effort NHS staff put in to protect every single one of us during the pandemic, many going beyond the call of duty in the fight against Covid.”

The National: Wes Streeting accused the BMA of being 'hostile' Wes Streeting accused the BMA of being 'hostile' (Image: Archant)

Harper said it was time Labour “stopped working against unions” and get behind a fair pay deal for workers.

She pointed to Scottish Government NHS negotiations that saw staff receive a “record” 7.5% pay rise.

She continued: “The SNP Scottish Government has and will continue to recognise the hard work our NHS staff do and reward them accordingly.

"That is why consistently Agenda for Change staff in Scotland have been the best paid NHS workers in the UK.

“At no point during the negotiations have the BMA suggested they support lowering standards for patients and to suggest otherwise is an outrageous slur against the profession.

“For a Labour MP to use the term hostile to describe any union, let alone those representing health workers, really is unconscionable.

The National: Labour's shadow Scottish health secretary Jackie Baillie was urged to distance herself from the 'attack' on the BMA Labour's shadow Scottish health secretary Jackie Baillie was urged to distance herself from the 'attack' on the BMA

“I remember when Labour stood side-by-side with trade unions, but during this round of strikes your party’s rhetoric of pitting working people against the rest of the population makes you look more and more like a Tory tribute act every day.

“That is why you must condemn the remarks of your colleague Wes Streeting at the earliest opportunity and in the strongest possible terms, and recognise the incredible work our NHS workers are doing in the midst of one of the most challenging periods our NHS has ever faced.”

Scottish Labour hit back at the SNP politician, labelling the letter a "pathetic attack" on the party.

A Scottish Labour spokesperson said: “Labour is the party of the NHS and will always stand up for NHS workers.

READ MORE: JK Rowling opens 'women-only' centre for sex abuse survivors in Scotland

“This is a pathetic attack from Emma Harper who has deliberately misrepresented the facts. Scottish Labour has a strong relationship with the BMA and all health unions.

“The SNP cannot pick and choose when to listen to the BMA so that it fits their political games.

“Ms Harper should reflect on the fact that it is the failure of her SNP government that has forced the RCN into balloting for strike action for the first time in its 100 year history.

“Scottish Labour will continue to defend our NHS from Tory and SNP cuts and incompetence.”