NHS scares on both sides of the Tweed

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I write regarding Lesley Riddoch’s article (Perspective, 18 August), in which she criticises claims that cross-Border healthcare may be under threat if there’s a Yes vote, yet she failed to reference the farcical claims from the SNP that a No vote would lead to the privatisation of the NHS in Scotland.

I have said before that this is the biggest lie of the independence campaign to date, and I stick by that.

The NHS in Scotland is fully devolved and so we are protected wholly from the marketisation of healthcare that’s happening in England.

Other than the cabinet secretary for education, Mike Russell, nobody in Scottish politics is proposing the privatisation of the NHS; every party wants to keep the health service as a fully 
public institution.

However, it would be wrong to suggest private health care isn’t a factor here. While Ms Riddoch points out that a lower percentage of Scotland’s health budget goes to the private sector, that still equates to £400 million in seven years and a 37 per cent increase under the SNP’s stewardship.

The Yes campaign has also suggested that, through 
Barnett consequentials, Scotland will see less money for health as the NHS in England turns to the private sector.

That argument assumes that the private sector is always cheaper, which is clearly not the case. It also fails to take into account that it is at the discretion of the Scottish Government to allocate funds that come from the UK government.

In the health sector we’ve seen this in practice when the SNP failed to pass on £300m in Barnett consequentials in just one year.

Ms Riddoch is absolutely right to point out that the Westminster coalition is destroying the health service south of the Border, but the impact the SNP has had on the NHS here cannot be 
ignored either.

The British Medical 
Association, Royal College of Nurses and other eminent health professionals have all stated their concerns for a system “creaking at the seams”, and it’s time for the SNP to prioritise improvements to our healthcare system rather than scaremongering about the future of our beloved NHS.

Neil Findlay MSP

Scottish Parliament

Edinburgh

The suggestion by Fred Hay and Angus Young (Letters, 18 August) that NHS funding is better protected by remaining in the UK does not stand up to scrutiny.

A UK-wide comparison by the National Audit Office in June 2012 provides figures per head for health spending in Scotland and the other 
nations of the UK.

These allow comparisons between health budgets and tax revenues across the UK nations – and it is clear that Scotland’s health expenditure represents a lower proportion of its tax revenues than is the case for rUK.

In other words, existing levels of health spending are more affordable to an independent Scotland than they are to the UK as a whole.

Messrs Hay and Young aren’t the only ones to make questionable claims about health and independence.

I attended Gordon Brown’s talk at the Edinburgh Book Festival last Friday with an open mind, having been promised that it would provide the elusive “positive case for the Union”.

Yet sadly it reverted to type, suggesting, for example, that independence would jeopardise cross-Border co-operation on blood transfusions and organ transplants. I find Mr Brown’s continued use of this health-related scare story particularly disappointing since it has been comprehensively discredited, most strikingly by NHS Blood and Transplant’s own chief executive.

We can already see the benefits of many decisions regarding health being taken in Scotland instead of Westminster. On 18 September we have the opportunity to do what any normal country does, and assume full control of our healthcare system.

C Hegarty

Glenorchy Road

North Berwick

I am writing to applaud the courage of Alex Murray, the first SNP provost of Perth and Kinross Council, for admitting he had been “a bit naive” about the current attempt to gain Scottish independence.

Alex Murray is a thoughtful former politician and not given to sudden acts of bravado. His was a considered view of what the decision that faces us is about, and to his eternal credit he is brave enough to admit that he had got it wrong.

Alex Salmond has very few answers to the important questions that face us all in this referendum. It was patently obvious in the televised debate that Salmond has no answer whatsoever to the currency issue, one of the areas identified by Mr Murray along with EU membership as being factors that could damage Scotland badly if we were foolhardy enough to vote Yes.

The Scottish Government’s current attempt to drag the NHS into the debate, when it is widely known that Westminster has no say, whatsoever, in the Scottish health service, highlights its desperation.

The only involvement Westminster has had with the Scottish NHS recently is to provide £1.3 billion of additional funding since 2011.

Mr Murray’s call for a debate to be had on federalism within the UK is more likely to be of benefit to Scotland than the current attempt by the few to bounce the 
majority into a vote they didn’t want or ask for.

When lifelong SNP members are questioning the 
wisdom of independence, we really do have to take note and “caw canny”.

(Cllr) Ian Campbell

Highland Ward PKC

West Park

Perth

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