Salmond’s NHS argument has been blown apart

Alex Salmond’s argument that only independence can save the NHS has been blown apart by new information leaked to the BBC and the Herald newspaper.

Independence could make it harder to protect the NHS in Scotland

Alex Salmond’s argument that only independence can save the NHS has been blown apart by new information leaked to the BBC and the Herald newspaper.

The papers, supplied by an unnamed NHS whistle-blower, described as having become frustrated by the Yes campaign’s statements on the NHS, were presented to a meeting of health board chief executives and civil servants last month.

The documents suggest that the NHS north of the border faces a funding gap of somewhere between £400 and £450 million in 2015/16, described as ‘a level significantly in excess of that previously required’.

It goes on to argue that health boards will have to consider centralising hospitals and closing some services. ‘Radical and urgent decisions need to be made regarding the shape and configuration of services,’ the document states.

Speaking to the BBC, the whistle-blower pinned the blame squarely at the feet of the Scottish Government and the policies it is pursuing.

The documents come following a similar warning on funding from the respected Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).

Last week a blog post on the IFS website, co-authored by its director, Paul Johnson noted that the Scottish Government’s decisions, rather than those by Whitehall, had led to reduced spending on health services when compared with England.

The blog explained:

‘Between 2009-10 and 2015-16 spending on the NHS in England will, on currently announced plans, have risen by about 4 per cent in real terms despite an overall fall of 13 per cent in English departmental spending.

‘Over the same period the vagaries of the Barnett formula mean that Scotland will have had to cut overall public service spending by less – by about 8 per cent rather than 13 per cent. But the Scottish government has chosen to protect the NHS in Scotland slightly less than it has been protected in England. Spending on the NHS in Scotland has fallen by 1 per cent.

‘Analysis we published last year shows this is not a new pattern. Between 2002–03 and 2009–10 – years of plenty for public services rather than cuts – real-terms health spending per person grew by 29 per cent in Scotland compared with a 43 per cent increase across the UK as a whole. This was despite overall public service spending per person growing by a very similar amount in Scotland (26 per cent) and the UK as a whole (28 per cent).

‘So it seems that historically, at least, Scottish governments in Holyrood have placed less priority on funding the NHS in Scotland (and more on funding other services) than governments in Westminster have for England.’

It continued by arguing that independence could make it harder to protect the NHS:

‘Independence would give the Scottish government more freedom to set spending and tax policies. It would also, in principle, have more freedom to borrow. That freedom would be constrained by the size of the debt it would likely inherit and the willingness of markets to lend. On most plausible scenarios it is hard to see how an independent Scotland could “end austerity” in the short run…In this case an independent Scotland would need to implement bigger spending cuts (or more tax rises) than the UK as a whole or try to borrow more. This means it would likely be harder rather than easier to protect the NHS.’

And before the SNP seek to lash out at all those who dare to disagree with them, they would probably do well to read their own manifesto from the 2011 Scottish elections which made clear that they already have the levers needed to protect the NHS. As it concludes in no uncertain terms:

‘The Scottish Parliament has responsibility for the health service and that means we can protect NHS budgets.’

 Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward

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10 Responses to “Salmond’s NHS argument has been blown apart”

  1. glynbeddau

    What utter rubbish Just as it is in Wales spending on the NHS in Scotland is dependent on the ocket Money . Sorry Block Grant from Westminster. Which will be cut by either Tories. Labour or Lib Dems after the next general Election, Vow or no Vow as in Today’s Record. Who believes any pledge by Clegg anyway?

    The Welsh Government can only protect NHS budget by raiding that of Education. Idf Scotland vote NO they will probably have to do the same.

  2. Dee_Jay

    Alex Salmond lying about the NHS as well!!!

  3. Dave Stewart

    except the “pocket money” that Scotland receives through the Barnett formula is more per capita than England receives.So really the Scottish do rather well in that regard.

    If I were Scottish I would be voting yes but not for fiscal reasons. I feel if the SNP hadn’t attempted to play the economic case (which is dubious) and instead ran with social democratic arguments the Yes campaign would have steamed ahead.

  4. glynbeddau

    Well Wales does worse out of Barnett.than Scotland but my point is that a cut which Wil come round Westmister will lead to a cut in the Scottish NHS. However I agre on the Social Democray argument,

  5. David Davies

    The NHS is being secretly privatised NOW.

    TTIP will finish the job.

  6. Chrisso

    Ed the Scottish Parliament is a Pocket Money Parliament. Surely you know that? Do read up on the funding. An independent Scotland (I know you hate hearing this) will be able to allocate resources the way it (not Westminster) wishes – and that will include the Scottish Health Service. If Scotland’s GDP per capita is in the equation Scotland is 8th in the OECD rankings. UK is 17th. This is the reason that you and the other unionists (not at all to do with ‘left’ thinking) are so terrified, because Scotland is FAR better off going it alone.

  7. sarntcrip

    there are non so blind as they who won’t see
    sreferendum will leave Scotland irrevocably divided

  8. sarntcrip


  9. me

    “an unnamed NHS whistle-blower” are you sure – you don’t mean the treasury? Why do people believe this government propaganda? Why don’t people think/research for themselves? The truth is out there!

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