THE SNP in 2014 were “right” to be concerned about Tory intentions to privatise the NHS – despite Gordon Brown claiming it was “baseless scaremongering”, the First Minister has said.

It comes after the former Labour prime minister warned that the Conservatives were looking to bring in a more privately funded healthcare system, saying: “Mark my words: this will be [the] end of the NHS if the Tories have their way.”

Brown hit out at former health secretary Sajid Javid’s proposals to see people charged £20 for GP appointments and £66 for visits to A&E. Javid wrote in the Times that the NHS needed to extend "the contributory principle".

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The former Labour boss said on Twitter: “The direction in which the Conservatives are travelling is already clear. The sick would pay for being sick …

“Today's Tories may have clapped NHS nurses and health workers at the height of the pandemic.

“But now they are not only opposing decent remuneration for them but also contemplating a more privately financed healthcare system.”

Writing in the Guardian, Brown added: “The prime minister, Rishi Sunak, who has used private healthcare, once came up with a proposal for new charges: £10 for patients who miss GP and hospital appointments. And so once again … Conservatives are testing the water for a different kind of NHS.”

Commenting on Brown’s intervention, the First Minister criticised him for having dismissed the warnings from the Yes movement during the 2014 referendum campaign.

“I agree with Gordon Brown about the Tory threat to the NHS,” she wrote on Twitter, “though I also recall that when ⁦@theSNP⁩ raised this in #indyref he called it baseless scaremongering.”

“Turns out we were right to be very concerned,” Sturgeon added.

The First Minister also spoke about Brown’s previous comments during a press conference in Edinburgh on Monday.

She told journalists: “The final point I would make about Gordon Brown's comments is I well remember making this argument, and raising these concerns in the run-up to the independence referendum in 2014.

"And I also remember Gordon Brown calling it baseless scaremongering. I think he threatened to return to frontline politics if we didn't withdraw this terrible smear.

"So, Gordon Brown is right to be raising these concerns and I'm glad he's now seeing what we were warning about all these years ago – that the NHS is not safe in the hands of the Conservatives."

Speaking in 2014, Brown called SNP claims that the Tories were aiming to privatise the NHS a “nationalist deception”.

At the time, however, then shadow health secretary Andy Burnham was running a campaign saying exactly the same thing.