How Scotland’s NHS would be affected by a yes vote

Scotland has controlled its own health services since devolution in 1999, but independence could affect policy and funding

How would social care be different in an independent Scotland?

Today and tomorrow, I will be writing updates on Scotland’s referendum on independence every few hours for Beacon. To clarify, in the title ‘The end of Britain, possibly – LIVE!’, Britain refers to the country also known as the UK, not the islands we’re sitting on just off the north-west coast of Europe…

Whatever happens, the sun is going to rise over the islands tomorrow morning. Possibly behind some clouds, but that’s normal.

Below is my piece for Guardian Healthcare Professionals, published on Tuesday, looking at how NHS Scotland may fare under independence. Continue reading “How Scotland’s NHS would be affected by a yes vote”

Scotland’s Future NHS under independence: much like the existing one?

Scotland’s Future, the 670-page report published last week by the Scottish Government promoting Scottish independence, includes detailed plans on how the BBC, the Royal Mail and the security services would be divided up if Scotland votes in favour of a split next September. Continue reading “Scotland’s Future NHS under independence: much like the existing one?”

The NHS Risky Rectangle: a Bermuda Triangle for hospitals?

NHS acute trusts vary widely in quality. It’s quite easy to spot the good ones – they appear regularly in the media, they win awards and they are famous as organisations. It’s certainly not always the case, but an appetite for attention tends to indicate an organisation that is proud of what it does and where staff have confidence to talk about what they are doing right – as well as a press office and management team happy to let them. Their ranks include Cambridge University Hospitals, King’s College Hospital, Salford Royal, Great Ormond Street, The Christie and University College London Hospitals. Continue reading “The NHS Risky Rectangle: a Bermuda Triangle for hospitals?”

Hospital charities fight to raise funds as giving slows in austerity Britain

Charities supporting hospitals are finding new ways to reach out to donors as traditional cash cows dry up

In ‘A journey to… let’s not go there’ in his most recent book Holidays in heck, American journalist PJ O’Rourke writes about being treated for cancer. (For those who don’t know O’Rourke, the fact that his many books include Republican party reptile should give you a clue that he comes at things from a right-wing perspective, although that’s less important than him being very funny and perceptive.) He feels concern about the quality of his medical care at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Centre – he has reaonable insurance, but what happens to those who don’t, he asks the centre’s press officer?

We’re a charitable institution. No one will ever be refused care here. On the other hand, we have to keep the lights on. We do try to find any possible means of payment – government programs, private insurance, et cetera.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock finds that 60% of patients who think they aren’t eligible for assistance are, but offers discounts and payments plans – and gave away $63m of treatment in 2007. Continue reading “Hospital charities fight to raise funds as giving slows in austerity Britain”

Margaret Thatcher, preserver of the NHS. Yes, really

Spitting Image Margaret Thatcher
(Fairly) safe in her hands: a Margaret Thatcher Spitting Image puppet in Grantham Museum. © Copyright Richard Croft. Licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence.

Today sees the funeral of Baroness Thatcher, the prime minister who saved/crippled Britain, giving new hope to/tearing the soul out of its communities and reforming/undermining the public sphere, delete according to preference.

But it’s more complicated than that. If it wasn’t, the NHS would not have survived her leadership in its current form. It turns out that, when Margaret Thatcher said “the NHS is safe in our hands”, she was pretty much right. She changed it, but not nearly as much as you would have expected. Continue reading “Margaret Thatcher, preserver of the NHS. Yes, really”