It’s interesting how the Unionist Parties, all of them, say that the fate of the NHS in Scotland is ‘devolved’, that therefore it becomes wholly the choice of the Scottish Parliament to privatise, or not to privatise, all the while claiming that NHS spending in England is increasing, so our ‘Barnett Equivalent’ is increasing.
Perhaps some of us are stupid enough to believe that. Westminster certainly thinks we are right now, at least judging by its actions.
It’s a bit like me giving you my car, which you absolutely need but don’t have the money to run. I’ll tell you it’ll be fine, just give me your vote and everything will work out, I’ll even pay for the maintenance, I’ll pay for the roads too, the infrastructure, I just won’t tell you it’s actually your money I’m using.
I’m not going to tell you today, when I need that vote, that tomorrow, after you’ve given it to me, I’ll stop giving you the money to buy petrol,
even though I know you don’t have the ability to buy it yourself. I won’t ever actually ask for the car back, why should I? Effectively, I’ll just stop you using it so I don’t have to maintain it any longer; that means I can ignore the infrastructure too.
My car in your hands, the NHS as we know it in Westminster’s hands, both a bit useless after that vote has been used, both of little value once the currency of negotiation has been spent. Without the ability to fund its NHS being firmly in Scotland’s hands, it’s not Scotland’s NHS. It never will be, like anything else, if we can’t fund it, like a car with no petrol, it’s pointless.
There’re two things we all need to be aware of when it comes to funding.
Firstly, Barnett’s on the way out. No Westminster party has pledged to maintain it; mind you, after the student loans debacle, amongst others, those promises wouldn’t be worth much even if they were made.
Secondly, NHS spending in England has increased, but a significant part of that increase now funds shareholder profits, not patient care. It’s still ‘government spending’ they argue in London Town, so Scotland benefits. They’re right as well, but only for today.
After you spend that vote on Thursday, if you spend it foolishly, if you vote ‘No’, here’s what will happen to your NHS, amongst other cherished institutions.
The main English parties have all said they are committed to Austerity. In actual fact, they’ve no choice; they spend so much on servicing a debt created by their economic mismanagement that it’s possibly their only true option.
UK Debt payments, just for interest, already equal four times the cost of Scotland’s NHS, by 2020 they’re going to be close to outstripping the cost of the entire UK’s health care system. That money has to be ‘found’ from somewhere, and they can’t indenture Scottish Oil or sell off the Royal Mail again.
The money will be found from the same place it’s always found, our taxes. In this case, stealth taxes once more. Just like the pensions raids, except now it’ll be an NHS raid.
The NHS in England is largely privately run these days; we just pay the bills and the profits on top. It’s ripe for shifting from the public books.
As that shifting process initiates, expect co-pays to be introduced in England, the think tanks and committees are already sounding them out, the responses they’re getting are positive.
The next stage will be a supplemental ‘tax’ or extra NI contribution, after that employer funded insurance will become de-rigueur. Each small step not that big of a deal alone, each small step so singularly significant moving that £100 billion plus from the government books to our own. Each small step contributing to City profits, even as the square mile contributes to the party coffers.
Expect, over the course of several years, the NHS to go from ‘universal entitlement’ to a ‘needs based benefit’.
As this all happens, even at just a twenty pound co-pay per visit, and three visits a year, that’s 3.6 billion shaved from the public budget in England. That’s about 1/3 of Scotland’s NHS costs, and that proportionate allocation won’t come north anymore, even in the unlikely event Barnett survives. That twenty pound co-pay is only half what Labour’s proposing mind you, Red-Ed is on record at £120 per person a year, with other’s in Westminster’s circles suggesting a tenner a month a head ‘access fee’ per user, so that’d be over seven billion, it’ll cover a bit more mismanagement then?
Typically it can be expected that any tests and procedures will also come with their individual co-pays, and all this will happen, because folk are only too willing to ‘pay a co-pay to save their NHS’, not realizing that even although the staff in front of them might be wearing NHS insignias, they actually aren’t NHS employees. The public doesn’t realize that what ‘they’re paying to save’ is already effectively dead, in England.
Once these conditions become the norm, its reasonable, based upon past trends, to expect those still using the NHS to become vilified as are the public health recipients in America by the US right wing media, they’ll be just another round of ‘benefits scroungers’.
When it’s all done, just remember, you cast that vote, and with an opportunity to truly change the way folk get treated in these Islands, throughout the entirety of these islands, if you cast it with poor judgement, you’ll have used up all your currency, and Westminster certainly isn’t going to call for free critical care or life support for a cause which it views as simply creating wasteful constitutional crises. If Westminster can stop it, there’ll be no more ‘wasteful’ constitutional amendments, otherwise known as devolution.
Remember too, on some future day, when you personally need that life support, from the birth of a child to major surgery, or even simply your elderly care in the years to come, as it is in England already, you’d better be prepared to pay.
There you have it, it’s quite simple really, David Cameron, Nick Clegg, Alistair Darling, Ed Miliband or the man who helped start the sell-off of the NHS, and raided your pensions, Gordon Brown. Would you buy a used car from them under any conditions, not just these conditions? How about a soon to be very underfunded NHS Perhaps the promise of a scandal free Westminster works for you?
If you wouldn’t do any of these, why would you buy a Union?