Fund Your Utopia Without Me.™

18 September 2014

Liar, Liar, Kilt On Fire!

One of the biggest scare tactics that Salmond & Co has used is the lie that, remaining in the Union, will result in the privatisation of the NHS.  This is absolute balderdash!  Scotland controls its own NHS.

Salmond & Co have roared that independence is the only way to 'protect our NHS!'  Well, a secret Scottish memo surfaced recently and guess what?

The NHS in Scotland is facing a £450m funding shortfall, according to a leaked document.

NHS finance bosses warn that accident and emergency units and some services could face "centralisation" in order to plug the financial gap.

"Radical and urgent decisions need to be made," the document is thought to warn, as well as cautioning ministers that the "status quo and preservation of existing models of care are no longer an option".

The Scottish Government told the BBC the document was "part of the regular discussions among NHS leaders to plan for NHS Scotland's future".

The paper, which was passed to The Herald and the BBC, comes amid a referendum campaign in which Yes Scotland and the Scottish Government have claimed that independence is necessary to protect the devolved NHS in Scotland.

According to The Herald, the document was prepared by John Matheson, the Scottish Government's director of health finance, along with the finance directors of the country's health boards.

The newspaper reported on Tuesday morning that the dossier outlines savings of between £400m and £450m which must be made by April 2017. The Herald said the document had been passed to journalists amid "increasing frustration" amongst some NHS staff at "suggestions from Yes campaigners that Scotland needs independence to protect NHS funding".

The internal memo is understood to say the NHS in Scotland is already feeling the strain of financial constraints, an ageing population and soaring pharmaceutical costs. In an apparent swipe at the Scottish Government, the document complains that "continued commitments are being made which are directing increasing levels of resource into hospital-based provision counter to the ambition for enhancing preventative/ self-care and local community-based provision".

This appears to be a reference to the Scottish Government's twin pledges of more community-based care and reducing hospital waiting times and suggests that the funding required to achieve the former is being directed instead to realising the latter.

The Herald reported that the document said health board managers would have to make cutbacks of around 3.5% of the Scottish NHS budget.

The paper quoted the document as saying there was a "projected change in the financial position which will require boards to achieve cash-releasing savings... at a level significantly in excess of that previously required and without the mandate and authority to implement the scale of change and redesign required."

These savings could be made by "centralising" some accident and emergency departments and "specialist treatment". The SNP was elected to government in 2007 after a campaign against accident and emergency closures.

However, doctors and NHS managers agree, the report is believed to state, that "radical and urgent decisions need to be made regarding the shape and configuration of services. The status quo and preservation of existing models of care are no longer an option given the pressing challenges we face."

The NHS has played a central, if unexpected, role in the referendum campaign after the pro-independence side warned that Scotland's health service was in danger from "privatisation" south of the border. None of the three main parties are Westminster advocates privatisation, although Labour's shadow health secretary Andy Burnham has laid the charge against the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government.

The NHS in Scotland has been devolved to the Scottish Parliament since 1999 and the Scottish Government decides its funding level in its annual budget. However, that money comes from a "block grant" passed to Scotland from the UK Parliament and calculated using the Barnett Formula, a mechanism that sees Scottish funding adjusted in accordance with changing expenditure levels in the rest of the UK.

First Minister Alex Salmond and the wider Yes movement have argued that only a Yes vote can protect health services in Scotland and the claim has been the subject of poster campaigns by Yes Scotland.

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