Brown repeats false indyref claims over transplants and transfusions


  By a Newsnet reporter

Gordon Brown has repeated false scares relating to cross-border cooperation on organs transplants and blood transfusions, saying they could end if Scots vote Yes.

Appearing at the Edinburgh Book Festival, Mr Brown told an audience that Scottish independence could threaten existing agreements on health between Scotland on England.

He said: “It’s sometimes forgotten that there are about a hundred transplants every year where a Scottish donor can help an English patient and an English patient can help a Scottish patient.

“There are thousands of cases of blood transfusions where blood is crossing the borders,”

Mr Brown added: “I don’t want to lose that.”

The claims by the former Labour leader are a repeat of similar comments he made in July when he said patients north of the border would be “at risk” in the event of a Yes vote.

However the claims by the former Labour party figure had already been dismissed as nonsense by NHS Blood and Transplant, which co-ordinates organ donation across the UK.

In a letter in March the NHSBT stated that it expects cross-border healthcare systems to stay in place after a Yes vote in September.

The letter, initially sent to Tory MSP Nanette Milne, stated that: “NHSBT would expect this reciprocal agreement to continue if Scotland does agree to independence as the arrangement offers additional security to all four blood services.”

The contents of the year old letter were subsequently re-affirmed last month when in a communication which asked specifically about Mr Brown’s claims, an NHSBT official said:

“Thank you for your recent telephone call to the NHSBT Donor Line.

“I can confirm that Scottish independence will not affect organ donation and the system will continue as it does currently.

“I hope this answers your query, please let me know if you require any further information and I will be happy to help.”

Commenting in March, SNP MSP Aileen McLeod, who sits on the Health and Sport Committee, said:

“The NHS Blood and Transplant service makes it perfectly clear that they expect the reciprocal arrangement with NHS Scotland that currently exists to continue after Scotland becomes independent.

“That is an entirely sensible position and one that confirms that an independent Scotland will of course cooperate closely with the rest of the UK on all kinds of issues where it is in our mutual interest to do so.”

Despite the NHS Blood and Transplant service twice confirming current arrangements will indeed remain in place following a Yes vote, Mr Brown has still to be challenged by any national media outlet over his claims which are sure to be causing distress to some people who are chronically ill.