The NHS: Compare and contrast these visions of the future

[Obviously, please read my post, but also take a look at this one by Wings Over Scotland too.]

From Vote No Borders we have this gem:

Observant readers will notice that the above video is now unavailable. It appears that Great Ormond Street Hospital, who are featured in the sketch, were unaware of content of the advert before it was screened and, on being alerted to that fact that it had been, complained to Vote No Borders who appear to have removed their advert from public view.

However, thanks to a Wings Over Scotland reader, I am able to show you it in all its glory.

There is just one, teeny, tiny point I am going to make about this video before letting you watch the others; the NHS in Scotland has ALWAYS been a separate organisation to the NHS in England. Back in 1947, when the whole NHS idea was set in motion, a separate NHS was created in Scotland and while NHS Scotland and the NHS have always worked hand-in-hand they were never part of one national NHS. It did not simply come into being when Scotland was given Devolution in 1998 and, prior to the Scottish Parliament taking power in 1999, NHS Scotland was overseen by the Scottish Office in Westminster and run quite separately from the rest of the NHS (while cooperating seamlessly with it). This is also true of NHS Wales and Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland. Actually, there is a second tiny point I will also mention; the irony of this clip claiming the ‘NHS, envy of the world’ is beyond words. VNB is a Tory backed campaign group and the Tories (and UKIP) want to privatise the NHS and, if they have their way, the world will no longer look on in envy.


By contrast and on a rather more serious note, we have this from Professor Allyson Pollock about the NHS in England:

And from Dr Phillipa Whitford, Consultant Breast Surgeon at Crosshouse Hospital, Kilmarnock,  a comparison of the NHS in Scotland and the NHS in England and what we Scots would look forward to if we vote No:

Of course, the main point of the video from VNB is that the current  cooperation between NHS Scotland and NHS England would cease to exist if Scotland is independent from the rest of the UK, and it has to be acknowledged that this may well be the case. [Edited: How about this response then? Or even better, this heart-warming story about Scottish-English-German cooperation for one sick child.]

But if this happens and we can no longer send our sick children to Great Ormond Street Hospital do you think we are unable to care for them in Scotland? We have four top rate children’s hospitals in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow and there will be very few, if any, children that these hospitals cannot treat just as well as any in England. And even if there were, let’s not forget that the UK has taken emergency care of critically sick and injured children from all around the world when their own countries could not care for them. It is possible that a future English government would prevent English hospitals from treating a sick Scottish child but I think that odds of that happening are so remote that they are not worth considering. But, if you do think that England could be so cruel, don’t you think that we really, really want as much distance as possible between their government and our people?

The subtle part of the VNB video is that it suggest that the medical care on offer in England is ultimately better than anything you can get in Scotland, and this is simply wrong. There is no doubt at all that individual hospitals in England are better at treating certain complex conditions than any other hospital anywhere in the UK but the same is true of hospitals in Scotland. Scotland is one of the leading countries in the world in the development of advanced medical equipment and procedures (even ignoring the historical development of penicillin which always gets a mention) and, for example, hospitals around the world rely on the MRI scanner technology which was first developed (and continues to be developed) at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and the University of Aberdeen (and this is one example of many).

But even that is beside the point because while a few individuals do suffer from the most complex and difficult to treat conditions, the majority of us will (thankfully) never have that problem. What we will undoubtedly have are one or more potentially serious conditions which are relatively straight forward to treat and this is what NHS Scotland already does better than the NHS in England. If you measure the strength of your health service by its ability to treat the most complex and rare of illnesses while ignoring the more basic, yet vital, services that affect the majority of patients then you are, in my opinion, concentrating on the wrong things.

So the question we really should be asking is whether or not there will be an NHS at all if Scotland remains within the UK. If we vote No, I don’t for a second doubt that we will have a top rate medical service in Scotland and the rest of the UK even if the NHS becomes a thing of the past and our health system becomes fully privatised. But if we look across the Atlantic to the USA and see what our health service could become, and will become if the Tories and UKIP have their way, we should be very worried. Nobody would claim that America doesn’t have some of the most advanced medical systems in the world, capable of carrying out procedures that many countries can only dream of emulating, but it also has to be acknowledged that their health system is two tier at best and those without health insurance get a worse standard of health care than someone in a much poorer country might get. Scotland already has hundreds of thousands of people  living in poverty (1 in 5 children, and in some areas, 1 in 3 children grow up in poverty), often suffering from the worst health problems; how many of them would get treated properly in this future privatised UK health business?

I will leave you with another video, this time of Mark Frankland (a good author by the way, you might enjoy his books),  an Englishman living in Scotland and dealing daily with poverty stricken people through his work with food banks. He has much to say that is worth listening to about poverty, the bedroom tax, the reputation of Scot’s around the world and being the ‘token English guy’ in the room, but seeing as we are discussing the NHS at the moment, please skip to 10:35 to hear his personal experiences of the NHS in England and Scotland (actually, please don’t skip anything he has to say and watch the whole thing).


About Hugh Wallace

Soldier, sailor, policeman, engineer, scientist, democrat, socialist, environmentalist, advocate of Scottish Independence
This entry was posted in Better together, independence, no scotland, politics, referendum, Uncategorized, yes scotland and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The NHS: Compare and contrast these visions of the future

  1. Pingback: Playing fast and loose with your (mental) health | Are We Really Better Together?

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