ANAS Sarwar was called out for being "contradicted by his London bosses" as he and John Swinney went head-to-head at FMQs.

During the clash, the Scottish Labour group leader raised people turning to private health providers in Scotland due to lengthy waiting lists – before being reminded that his party have pledged to "go further" than Tony Blair in bringing private firms into the health service

It comes after Sarwar was left red-faced by the UK Labour manifesto launched on Thursday morning.

Two days ago, the MSP promised in a TV debate that there would be no austerity under Labour – but insiders have now said that "really difficult" spending decisions will have to be made as a result of manifesto pledges not to raise the majority of taxes.

As Sarwar and Swinney debated at FMQs, the First Minister raised this pattern of the Scottish Labour leader saying one thing before his Westminster bosses say another.

Swinney said his government is working to reduce NHS waiting times in Scotland, before turning to Sarwar's party.

"I do have to say to Anas Sarwar, I think he's on very very thin ground challenging me on the question of private involvement in the National Health Service," he told the Chamber.

"Let me just remind him of the comments of Labour's shadow health secretary Wes Streeting, who said that a UK Labour government would, and I quote, 'hold the door wide open for the private sector in the National Health Service'."

He went on: "Now what we have here is a classic example of what Anas Sarwar gets up to in public debate.

"He comes here in Scotland and says one thing, and in England his bosses are doing a completely different thing – which will have an effect on our budget here in Scotland.

"Anas Sarwar has already been caught out on this, this week. It's not good enough to say one thing in Scotland and be contradicted by your bosses in London."

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A furious Sarwar responded to say Swinney's comments had been "frankly embarrassing", as 3000 people in Scotland have had to pay for private hip replacements. 

He went on to say that the Labour manifesto pledged that the NHS would always be "publicly owned and publicly funded", before adding that there would be "no return to austerity" under a Starmer government.

A message to the Scotland squad

Elsewhere during FMQs, Swinney paid tribute to the Scotland men's team before their first match against Germany at the Euros.

"It's great to see Scotland back in Europe where we rightly belong," the First Minister joked.

He continued: "As First Minister I want to wish Steve Clarke's team the best of luck and wish the huge numbers of Scotland supporters making the journey a safe and memorable trip.

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"I know the Tartan Army will be an absolute credit to Scotland, and I know the team will be a credit to Scotland because they have inspired so many of us by their success in getting into Euro 2024. 

"I look forward very much to being present to encourage the Scotland team on Friday evening and to ensure their success on Friday night."

Elderly patients facing long NHS waits

Earlier during FMQs, Scottish Tory chief Douglas Ross warned that elderly Scots are “waiting far too long” for care in the NHS.

He claimed there have been more than 100 cases of centenarians spending 12 hours or more in A&E in just over a year.

He said figures obtained under freedom of information laws show “in over 100 cases, people aged over 100 waited over 12 hours for emergency treatments”.

He branded this “appalling and unacceptable” as he challenged Swinney on NHS performance during First Minister’s Questions.

It came after an audience member in a General Election debate earlier this week pressed the First Minister on the care her 93-year-old mother had received.

Swinney apologised to Anna McClintock during the TV leaders’ debate after hearing her mother had waited six hours for an ambulance, and then another two hours to be admitted to hospital.

On Thursday, Swinney accepted that “not everybody is getting the treatment they require as quickly as they require it”.

But he told MSPs the “NHS is at the top of my list of priorities” as he said “congestion” was to blame hospitals for the long waits.

(Image: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

The First Minister said: “Our hospitals are operating at such a level of congestion that individuals are not able to be transferred from accident and emergency into wider hospital care for the simple reason that the hospitals are congested because of delayed discharge.”

He said the Scottish Government is working with councils to tackle the problem, which occurs when people are medically well enough to leave hospital but have to wait for care arrangements to be put in place.

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He added that “ultimately this comes back to the resources that are available to the National Health Service”, and he said his Government had taken the “hard decision” to increase tax for higher earners to help provide more funding for health service.

The First Minister went on: “We are obviously investing in our health service to the extent where we now have record levels of staffing to ensure we can meet the needs and the demands of the population in Scotland.

“I acknowledge not everybody is getting the treatment they require as quickly as they require it.

“But there is a very focused effort being undertaken within the Government, within our health boards, to make sure that can be delivered in all localities in Scotland.”