Many people ask whether they would still have free access to the Scottish NHS if Scotland were to become independent. We say the question should be whether remaining a part of the UK would guarantee free access to Scottish NHS? We researched and we found the following:
Independence may be the only way to guarantee you access to a free, reliable public health service in Scotland.
- The past several UK Governments have inflicted the longest period of austerity in the 70-year history of the health services, with health spending seeing its slowest increases since records began. As a result, at a UK-wide level, fewer critical staff are being recruited to support health services.
- Due to the way in which public spending is distributed across the UK, a budget is set for England, which sets the budget for the devolved nations. Austerity from Westminster therefore reduces the available public spending to devolved governments. This negatively impacts on the public finances available for the Scottish Government.
- Holyrood may have a set and limited budget but it doesn’t have to spend its budget in the same proportions as set for England by the chancellor. The Scottish Government has therefore committed to providing the Scottish NHS with resources above the UK average, as well as providing additional services such as free prescriptions and eye tests.
- The data available for comparison demonstrates clearly that the Scottish NHS has been performing more effectively than any other UK national health service.
- Per-person healthcare spending in 2018-19 in Scotland was £2,397, £2,207 in England, £2,352 in Wales, and £2,348 in Northern Ireland.
- Scotland has 76 GPs per 100,000 population, England 58, Wales 62, and Northern Ireland 67.
- Scotland has 1,105 nurses and midwives per 100,000 people, while England has 557, Wales 1,049, and Northern Ireland 1,049.
- 90% of A&E patients were seen within 4 hours or less in 2018/19 in Scotland, while in England it was 82%, Wales 75%, and Northern Ireland 65%.
- 0.2% of A&E patients waited over 12 hours in Scotland in 2018/19, while in England it was 2%, Wales 5.5%, and Northern Ireland 4%.
- Ninewells in Dundee was recently named the UK’s top-performing A&E unit in Dundee over the festive period.
Having to operate in an environment in which funding has been starved from the UK-level, the Scottish Government has nonetheless remained committed to ensuring the NHS receives better than average resources. This is a sign of the likely level of value that would be placed in the Scottish NHS after independence by any Scottish Government.
Remaining part of the UK, it is unclear how long the Scottish Government could maintain NHS Scotland’s performance and funding – meanwhile, the UK Government may attempt to privatise parts of the NHS to American firms as part of a transatlantic trade deal between Washington and London.
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