JOHN Swinney has ripped into Labour's plans to "hold the door wide open" to the private sector to ease NHS pressures.

As Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar gloated about his party creating and rescuing the NHS at First Minister's Questions, Swinney accused him of making "hollow" statements as he pointed out shadow health secretary Wes Streeting's pledges to go "further" than Tony Blair in making use of the private health sector.

Sarwar attempted to take the First Minister to task on NHS waiting times which have hit a record high in Scotland. 

He cited an example of a Glasgow constituent, Natalie, who required emergency surgery for a brain tumour. She was told in December last year she would require serious surgery to remove the tumour but "has heard nothing since".

READ MORE: BBC Question Time: Anger as Nigel Farage set for 37th appearance

While Swinney insisted his primary concern was with patients not getting the treatment they need on time, he accused Labour of pledging to "sell us out with austerity and the NHS".

Swinney pointed out how Streeting said on Wednesday "the NHS is in crisis in every part of the UK because the decisions that are taken at Westminster don't just affect England, but Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland". 

"Earlier in the month he said 'all roads lead back to Westminster' because of the austerity we have suffered for 14 years," Swinney added.

"In relation to that austerity programe, Rachel Reeves [shadow chancellor] has indicated that the Labour Party, if its elected, will not increase income tax, or national insurance or corporation tax or VAT, and that its accepted very strict borrowing limits within very strict fiscal rules and very strict tax rules and squeezed spending budgets.

"What that amounts to is austerity on stilts from any incoming Labour government.

"If that wasn’t bad enough, Wes Streeting said yesterday that he will hold the door wide open for the private sector in the NHS. 

"So don’t give me the stuff about the anniversary of the NHS. Labour is preparing to sell us out on austerity and the NHS."

Elsewhere at FMQs, Douglas Ross was asked to apologise to Swinney by the Presiding Officer after he kept shouting over the First Minister's answers to his questions about Michael Matheson's ban from Holyrood.

Parliament voted to suspend Matheson for 27 days and pause his salary for 54 days after he ran up an £11,000 data roaming bill on his iPad while on holiday.

The SNP claimed the investigation into Matheson’s conduct was tainted because Annie Wells, a Tory member of Parliament’s Standards Committee, had previously tweeted that she thought the SNP MSP was guilty and should be punished.

The SNP did not back a Labour motion which successfully pushed for the sanctions, but voted for their amendment which questioned the fairness of Matheson’s hearing.

After telling Ross several times that he accepted the decision the Parliament had come to despite not supporting the sanctions, Swinney accused him of engaging in "nasty personal abuse" in the chamber.

He said: "I think it’s pretty instructive that when Mr Ross goes through his sequence of questions and then gets to the pouring out of the volume of personal abuse that he pours out, it tells us that Mr Ross has lost the argument.

"He cannot do anything other than resort to nasty personal abuse. That’s what Mr Ross contributes to this Parliament."