Scotland’s health not improving under UK - academic

The University of Glasgow
The University of Glasgow
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SCOTLAND is unlikely to shed its “sick man of Europe” status if voters reject independence, a leading public health expert has warned.

If the independence debate was fought on health grounds, the pro-union campaign’s slogan would be “Really, Really Crap Together”, according to lecturer David Walsh from the University of Glasgow.

He told an audience of statistics chiefs in Edinburgh yesterday that the widening gap between rich and poor in Scotland is the worst in Europe, leaving Scotland with the poorest life expectancy levels.

“If the campaign were to be fought on the basis of health, I don’t think the No campaign would be picking a slogan that reflects all is rosy in the garden,” Mr Walsh said.

“Perhaps a more honest slogan from a health perspective isn’t so much Better Together, but Really Really Crap Together - but Possibly Even Crapper apart.”

The lecturer, based at the Glasgow Centre for Population, stressed he was not taking sides in the independence debate, adding that much of his funding came from the Scottish Government.

The academic said it would be difficult to indicate whether the approach taken by Governments in Scotland under devolution over the past 15 years would close the gap between rich and poor under independence and so improve public health.

But asked about the consequences of staying in the union, he indicated there is little hope of reversing Scotland’s poor health record.

Even other countries which have suffered similar “de-industrialisation” as Scotland in East Europe have enjoyed public health levels which have been “improving much, much faster.”

“It’s been going on now for a number of decades.

“So looking forward, the way the statistics are currently going, you would expect a continued relatively slower rate of improvement and a general widening of inequality.”