A charity has said a survey showing almost a third of over-50s questioned had paid or would be willing to pay for medical procedures due to difficulties accessing NHS treatment is evidence of an emerging two-tier system of healthcare in Scotland.

The research involving more than 4,100 people aged over 50 carried out by Age Scotland revealed 16% had already paid for private treatment including dentistry, hip and knee operations, cataract surgery, cardiology treatment, mental health assessments and MRI scans.

The survey also found a further 14% would consider paying for healthcare in the future.

Thirty per cent said they could not afford to pay for private healthcare, however, and another 19% said they did not believe they should have to pay.

Age Scotland found the majority who had paid for private healthcare came from financially better off households but about 6% of those had an annual income of less than £10,000.

Out of those who paid for healthcare, 18% were in their 80s, 17% in their 70s and 15% in their 60s.

The charity believes the findings point to an emerging two-tier health service where those who can afford to pay can access potentially life-saving treatments while those on low incomes face lengthy delays.

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