Allow me to correct some of the misconceptions flying about in relation to the NHS in England. It’s actually better than the Scottish NHS, despite having less funding than we do. Waiting lists are now a lot shorter.
There is more opportunity for developing care services – recently a consultant friend of mine had to move to England to be able to develop the service. There was no money available in the Borders.
This means Scots are having to travel south to get treatment. True, there is probably more privatisation in England. But that is a good thing as it means the service is more efficient and less prone to industrial action.
It means spending on patient care can go up, which is surely good for patients. Granted, it isn’t perhaps so good for the people who work for the NHS, but for overpaid consultants and GPs surely a bit of competition is no bad thing.
By contrast, here in Scotland I had to wait four months to see a specialist, and then they only put you on another waiting list. This is to massage the waiting list figures of course.
And can you get a GP appointment without having to wait till the following week? Only if you’re lucky enough to get through to the surgery at 8am. As for out-of-hours care, forget it.
All this with the poor staff being worked to the bone because the system can’t afford to employ enough people. And we have 25 per cent higher funding here from the Barnett Formula.
Privatisation might be a dirty word in Scotland, but at least the English are trying to put their service on a sustainable footing. It is simply not possible to continue to fund increasing numbers of old people and increasingly expensive treatments purely from taxation.
Nowhere else in the world does it work, not even in Scandinavia, so beloved by the Nationalists as an example of a socialist paradise.
Nationalists claim we can fund all this from 5 million taxpayers. This is dangerous wishful thinking when we now have ten times that number, including the immensely wealthy south-east of England, and this still isn’t enough.
An independent, socialist Scotland would be a disaster for the NHS. And it’s the poor who would suffer the most.
The SNP, having lost all credibility over the argument concerning currency, decides to peddle alarmist nonsense about the NHS in Scotland in the event of a No vote. It claims reduced spending on the NHS on England and increased privatisation will impact negatively on the NHS in Scotland.
This is the most scandalous deceit of the campaign so far and is aimed at alarming the gullible and vulnerable about the result of a No vote.
The NHS in Scotland is wholly devolved to the Scottish Government with spending, and whether or not to privatise parts of it, in the complete control of Holyrood.
As far as funding is concerned the facts are on record and are that Westminster, far from reducing spending on the NHS in England, plans to increase it from £105.6 billion in 2013-14 to £110.4bn in 2015-16.
Over the past five years Scotland has received an extra £1.3bn via the Barnett Formula as a result of increased spending on the NHS in England.
With independence there will be no payments from the Barnett Formula. In addition, a report from the impartial Institute of Fiscal Studies has warned that an independent Scotland would be faced with billions of pounds of extra spending cuts to cope with sharply declining oil revenues.
Sir Ian Wood’s latest statement supports this view.
These cuts would come on top of the cuts required to deal with the costs of separation which the SNP continue to be shy about coming clean on.
It is not rocket science to realise that in an independent Scotland the current benefits system and public services would be unaffordable, resulting in far worse austerity than has been experienced over the past few years and big increases in taxation.