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?”

No NHS criticism please, we’re British?

Last week, Victoria Macdonald, who has covered health and social care for Channel 4 News since 1999, felt that she needed to let everyone know that she does not hate the NHS. This followed online accusations that she did, one nastily linked to her daughter’s treatment for a head injury in an NHS hospital. Continue reading “No NHS criticism please, we’re British?”

An independent Scotland’s tough government IT choices for The Register

One year ahead of the referendum, The Register last week published my assessment of the choices an independent Scotland would face on government IT.

It’s a mixed picture. Some sections of the public sector, such as the NHS, education and the emergency service, are already run by Scotland on a devolved basis, and so is their IT. But the UK-wide ones that would need to be unscrambled are also the biggest: HM Revenue and Customs, Department for Work and Pensions and secret (leaving aside Edward Snowden’s cornucopia of stories) surveillance. Continue reading “An independent Scotland’s tough government IT choices for The Register”

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”

Four Scottish communities purchase their neighbourhoods

Helped by grant money, three community groups have succeeded in purchasing their land collectively

All abilites path on the Little Assynt Estate near LochinverToday on the Guardian’s Social Enterprise Network I write about two decades of community land ownership in the north-west Highlands of Scotland. Assynt Crofters’ Trust bought the land on which 13 townships stand on 1 February 1993, and the majority of the huge, but very lightly populated, area around Lochinver is now owned by its community. Today sees a further step, with a government-funded community purchase (the Scottish Land Fund, via the Big Lottery Fund) of the smokehouse in Achiltibuie, a little to the south – along with three announcements elsewhere in Scotland. Continue reading “Four Scottish communities purchase their neighbourhoods”