Former Labour government minister, Peter Kilfoyle, has broken party ranks to endorse the campaign for Scottish independence, amid growing claims that a “yes” vote in the upcoming referendum will protect the country’s NHS from privatisation throughout the UK.

Mr Kilfoyle, the former Liverpool Walton MP, suggested that the Labour leadership’s opposition to independence was merely motivated by self-preservation and that nationalists in Scotland were pushing a message which was “positive and aspirational”.

This endorsement was warmly welcomed by Alex Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister, who has argued that only independence could protect the Scottish NHS from the UK government’s “privatisation agenda”.

The NHS is fully devolved to the Scottish Parliament, but Mr Salmond believes that cuts to its budget south of the border “automatically triggers cuts in Scotland”.

Mr Salmond claimed that nothing the UK government was proposing would “even come close” to addressing the scale of the problem, claiming that the UK now has the highest levels of regional inequality in the European Union.

Speaking at his final speech in England before September’s referendum, he outlined his vision of an exemplary independent Scotland that would provide a benchmark for those elsewhere in the UK, who are looking at ways to change the current system to something that is more sustainable and more resilient than the one currently being pursued at Westminster.

Most recently, Scotland’s former top doctor, Sir Harry Burns, suggested independence could mean a better health service for Scots, as the nation would be able to engage more directly with local and central government. In addition to being in control of its own finances, Scotland would be able to offer a more tailored service, with thorough care and fewer cases of medical negligence, which has cost the NHS in Scotland more than £200 million in six years.

Sir Harry Burns, who recently stepped down as Scotland’s chief medical officer, believes that if people in a newly independent country were to feel more in control of their lives, it would have a positive impact on their health.

With the referendum to decide Scotland’s future less than two months away, such comments will be greatly welcomed by supporters of the Yes campaign.