By Lynda Williamson
Claims from the Better Together campaign that cross-border NHS specialist treatment would be withdrawn in the event of a Yes vote in the independence referendum have been debunked.
Leading academic and health economist Cam Donaldson of Glasgow Caledonian University stated in an article in The Courier newspaper that specialist cross-border treatment would continue on much the same basis as it does now following political independence.
Professor Donaldson, who holds the Yunus chair in Social Business and Health at the university explained that the NHS in Scotland is at present independent of the NHS in England meaning that cross-border arrangements are already in place. He asserts that these arrangements would continue, saying:
“I don’t see that it would really change very much. No one is going to shut down the border either way if people are in need of healthcare. Sensible financial arrangements would prevail. It works both ways and happens all over Europe.”
SNP MSP Bob Doris, who is also Deputy Convener of the Health Committee at the Scottish Parliament, said:
“Yet again, the No campaign’s mission to frighten the people of Scotland out of voting Yes has been exposed as bogus.
“Scotland’s NHS is already the responsibility of the Scottish Parliament, and confirmation from leading health economist Professor Cam Donaldson – who has worked extensively on both sides of the border – that independence poses no threat to the access of cross border specialist NHS treatment is a very welcome, common sense contribution to the debate on Scotland’s future.
“In the past weeks and months we have seen the scare stories of the anti-independence parties crumble to dust one by one – their bluff and bluster on currency was called out earlier this year when a UK Government Minister admitted ‘of course there would be a currency union’, while other scares on everything from mobile phone charges, attacks from Outer Space to Lord Robertson’s ‘cataclysmic’ claims that ‘forces of darkness’ would be boosted in the event of a Yes vote have been laughed at by people in Scotland .”
The Professor’s intervention comes as news emerges that Falkirk Council’s arms length trust has removed adverts produced by the controversial Tory funded group No Borders as well as other adverts produced by Better Together.
The No Borders group which was set up by a cabal of Tory businessmen based south of the border appears to be unaware of the independent status of the NHS in Scotland as one of their adverts speaks of a national (UK) NHS. The group originally claimed to be a grass roots organisation made up of ordinary members of the Borders community from the Scottish side, these claims were later shown to be false.
Following a complaint from the local authority’s SNP group Trust Chief Executive, Maureen Campbell, agreed to pull the adverts.
Keith Houston from YES Falkirk welcomed the decision but questioned why previous action was not taken.
Said Mr Houston,
“We are grateful to those local people who complained to YES Falkirk regarding the NO adverts.
Falkirk Council has a responsibility to stick within the rules and ensure fairness in the run up to 18 September. I would therefore welcome the decision to discontinue these articles but also have to question why they were allowed to be shown in the first place.”