Jul 312014
Eilidh Whiteford MP Peterhead Harbour (1)

Banff and Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford

Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP.

One of the most frequent concerns voters raise with me on the doorstep relates to the future of the NHS in Scotland.

The fact that England’s NHS is being slowly but surely privatised and broken up is public knowledge, and it’s something citizens are justifiably concerned about.

The situation is, of course, different north of the border. The Scottish Government has resisted the stealth privatisation of our NHS.

Most of us depend on the NHS to meet our health care needs, and while it’s not always perfect, the evidence shows that the NHS in Scotland is doing a better job of meeting treatment time targets and cutting infections than other parts of the UK.

In Scotland, the end of prescription charging has especially helped those with chronic illnesses, and access to free eye and dental checks often prevents more serious and costly problems developing.  And of course, free personal care is enabling many frail or elderly people to live independently, thereby maintaining their quality of life and preventing more costly interventions.

Overall, the health resource budget has increased by 22% over seven years of SNP Government. That represents a major investment, with real results.

Nonetheless, there is still reason to be concerned about the impact that Westminster’s privatisation agenda will have in Scotland. The reason is the funding mechanism for the Scottish Parliament.

The Scottish Parliament’s block grant is decided at Westminster, and is allocated on the basis of UK expenditure. When this goes up, the Scottish Parliament’s grant goes up. When it goes down, the Scottish Parliament’s grant goes down.

Our ability to spend is tied tightly to the UK Government’s own spending plans, and every cut the UK Government makes to spending on the English NHS has a consequential impact on our budget, Placing our NHS spending at the mercy of the UK Government’s priorities.

The Westminster Government’s Health and Social Care Act is estimated to result in £1.07 billion ‘savings’  between 2014-2020 – if this is taken from England’s NHS budget, this could result in a cut to Scotland’s budget of around £105 million each year.

Of course, tied in with this is the fact that politicians from all the main Westminster parties have already pledged to cut the Barnett Formula in the event of a No vote. This won’t happen before the referendum, but MPs from all parties have already said publicly that Barnett needs to be ‘reformed’.

Yet Scotland is consistently short-changed through Westminster spending priorities. In every one of the past 33 years, tax receipts in Scotland have been higher than in the rest of the UK; in the last 5 years alone we have contributed £8.3 billion more to the UK coffers than we’ve had back in public spending

The only way to protect Scotland’s NHS definitively is for the Scottish Government to take responsibility for its own budget. Scotland more than pays its way in the UK, and the current system of sending almost our entire revenue to London in return for pocket money is unsustainable.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.

  9 Responses to “We Can Stop Westminster’s Privatisation Agenda”

  1. 1) This article doesn’t mention the writer is an SNP MP

    2) Health spending in Scotland is completely devolved. Thus making this article bogus.

    3) Has AberdeenVoice declared for YES? It should make its position clear.

    • The article identifies the writer; there is no attempt to cover up who it is. As to Aberdeen Voice taking a position on this or any other issue, as per the home page “Aberdeen Voice is a weekly independent online news and information source. It promotes Citizen Journalism in Aberdeen and the North East and is not affiliated to any Political Party or the interests of any private company, lobby or third party organisation. Its focus is to give a voice to the general public in the North East and to promote inclusion in affairs affecting the region.” If you disagree with this article, then by all means please do submit your own piece; it would be welcome

  2. Agree with Alex

    Too many puff pieces from SNP politicians appearing in the Aberdeen Voice. This is hardly citizen journalism.

    • It’s a funny thing Mike; I can think of several organisations, some local, that will try all sorts of things to silence any opposition or criticism. When it comes to AV, as you well know, we publish what comes in and don’t impose a view or agenda. Why not write your own piece on the other side of the coin?

  3. Having had to counter such claims many times, on many different issues over the past 4 years, I hope you will forgive the following cut’n’paste job. Hopefully it will clarify where AV stands, and has stood from the outset.

    “I am sorry you feel that we have strayed from our neutral stance, and can see what leads you to this conclusion. We at Aberdeen Voice can only process what is contributed, and as long as articles do not breach or fall short of our criteria for publication, we treat each with equal favour.

    Lately, more contributions have come from persons associated or involved with SNP and/or pro independence groups. Other than block, censor, or refuse to process any/all of these, which would go against our agreed principles and procedures, all we can do is to encourage anyone who believes we are not presenting a balanced menu to contribute material which challenges, or offers an alternative view/angle.

    I also remember the SNP’s activities with regard to Menie and UTG, and over that period of time ( when we were accused of being anti-Trump, anti-development, anti-golf, anti-everything), I assured SNP supporters/members as well as others who levelled said accusations at us, that they were as welcome to write for us as anyone. The fact they failed to do so only maintained the perceived bias ( in their eyes at least ). Nothing has changed regard this approach. We are merely dealing with each article as it arrives in a manner which, within limits of legality, taste and quality, makes no judgement about the personal standpoint of the source.

    Like a jar is made of clear glass, and only becomes a ‘green sweetie jar’ if all that is put into it are green sweeties, Aberdeen Voice remains the colourless jar and will display what is contributed in the exact proportion and shade of what writers and contributors add to it.

    Funny enough, only a few weeks ago, on our facebook page, it was suggested we were a mouthpiece for the ‘NO’ campaign!

    Next week? Who knows? Whatever happens, we will continue to process all articles which pass our criteria for publication, established and adhered without amendment in the 4 years we have been operating, regardless of the sociopolitical leanings of the writer/contributor, and regardless of suggestions that we appear to favour a particular side of any argument or issue.

    As I say, I can understand there may appear to be an element of bias at times, but the perceived balance/imbalance of Aberdeen Voice is as much to do with those who don’t contribute as those who do, and although I appreciate your honesty, and understand why you have directed your comments to us, surely there is some scope to question why it is that other parties/campaigns are failing/not attempting to use our service.

    Whatever the reason(s), they are not ours to address. Our neutrality extends to not actively lobbying any particular party/campaign to provide us with material, even if it would counteract any perceived imbalance.

    However, I am satisfied that we have made it clear to all who question, and more besides, that we welcome material from all sides/camps, and should the situation change in terms of the nature and balance of what is contributed, then I assure you this will be reflected in the contents of AV.”

  4. The complaints of pro – Independence bias are, in my view, not only unfair but miss the most important point. I have failed to discern any hint of bias on the part of AV and it would surely be considered strange were they to refuse to publish any article on the basis that those of an opposite view failed to take the opportunity to submit an equal number or indeed any at all. For my own part, I have not done so for fear that AV may in turn become yet another forum for the endless banality of the Referendum “debate”.

    What I find objectionable is that, having been given the opportunity by AV to state their case for, or provide positive publicity for Independence and/or the SNP, the contributors consistently fail to respond when challenged on the accuracy or veracity of the claims they make. Such an approach appears to be at odds with my perception of the spirit of AV and is, in my view, impolite. Perhaps contributors might be reminded that in taking the opportunity to voice their opinions, they might accept the responsibility to respond to any respectful challenge to their often bizarre claims.

  5. I think the articles (like the one above), that have appeared in Aberdeen Voice in the run up to the referendum, will in fact encourage people to vote no to independence.

  6. I`m confused 🙂

    I`m probbly voting no.
    There are a few fundamental`s I need to put in place before I can make an informed decision ;O)

    Can i ask, and this is kinda off topic just a little.

    If I visit a doctor and get referred to either a surgeon or a chemist. Is there any financial gain for the referring Doctor?

    Oh, and if Scotland gets independance, will they drop corp tax a little to allow big business who threaten to move south an incentive to stay.

    Will we be left with two big dodgy banks

    can we stay out of Europe

    Will Scottish silver spoons be just as bad as the Silver spoons plaguing westminster?

    If independence is granted, does it mean snp will come to power automatically, or will there be a vote

    if say Scottish labour “get in”, wont they just campaign to get back into Britain?

    will we see the emergence of new parties

    Can we treat criminals like criminals and not victims?

    would we have an effective military force? ( I`m guessing strong military ties are in order,England cant afford a weak neighbour)

    Also, will England go to war to protect oil revenue (Sounds far fetched, but it happens)

    Doesnt oil and gas from North Sea land at Berwick upon tweed?

    will pedophilia be properly investigated “up top” with no obvious stalling tactics and cabinet reshuffles

    In Scotland, will we differentiate between some one who abuses 13-16 yr olds and someone who abuses 0-12 yr olds?

    Will we the have death sentence back? It doesnt have to be in a nasty revengeful manner, just a bit of general anesthetic overdose, free up the prisons a little, save taxpayer a few quid (Do-gooders are just x-cons with time on their hands to lobby gov)

    Do Scottish banks have to give the bank of England £5 in order to print a £5 note? and if so, if independance in realised, does the Scottish bank get its money back?

    Will i need a passport to visit England

    Couple of plus points for Scotland

    Oil will boom as a result ( I reckon) as we distance ourselves a little from imperial legacies

    Terrorist threats will decrease (same reason)

    Scottish Athletes to cheer on at olympics (that would be awesome!!)

    Any one else got any plus points, the ability to set our own taxes is hardly an incentive? :O)

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>