Below is part of a segment from Monday’s edition of Good Morning Scotland (from 2h 35m at the link beneath the clip), which featured an interview with Professor Allyson Pollock, an extremely experienced academic in the field of healthcare on both sides of the border who so far as we know has no dog in the Scottish constitutional fight.
(Good Morning Scotland, BBC Radio Scotland, 6 February 2017)
We thought it was worth the infinite pain of transcription to get it down in writing.
HAYLEY MILLAR (BBC SCOTLAND): How do the [English and Scottish NHS] systems, or services, compare?
PROF. POLLOCK: Well, I think there’s a very important background message to this story, which is that the NHS in England was abolished by the Health And Social Care Act in 2012.
So what’s happening is that in England the NHS is now rapidly being dismantled and privatised – both the delivery and opened up to user charges and changes in funding. And that has a big impact for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which still have their NHS.
Because the funding for the NHS in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales comes through something called the Barnett Formula. So we already have a problem, because Scotland is going to suffer under the Barnett Formula – known as the Barnett squeeze – so the amount of money that it gets from the Treasury is being reduced.
But also, as the NHS is being dismantled in England, funding is being withdrawn from both the NHS and social care, which means that that translates into the Barnett Formula into a real reduction in funding for the countries that still have a national health service.
Nevertheless, Scotland is still much better placed than England – and indeed Wales at the moment – Scotland is in a much stronger position than England with respect to both health and social care. The problem is at the moment that the English government is not committed to a national health service – it has abolished the national health service.
The Secretary of State for Health there has no duty to provide a national health service in England, so the money is now being withdrawn from the National Health Service in England.
And as it’s withdrawn from England, the Treasury at the same time is also withdrawing the funding from Scotland.
Now, Scotland still has a national health service, but if it’s going to retain a proper national planned health service, it does indeed require more funding to come in. But that ultimately is going to be a Treasury decision.
MILLAR: Except we saw the Scottish Government, didn’t we, Allyson Pollock, last week in the budget, saying that there would be more money for the NHS.
POLLOCK: Well, that’s true, but there’s only a limit as to what it can do with the pot of money that it gets from the Treasury, and that is being squeezed, because basically, the Scottish Government gets what’s called a block grant from the Treasury under the fiscal settlement, but it has very little power to alter the size of that grant. It can only move the budget around, as it were – it’s got very limited tax-raising powers.
So actually, we… whatever happens in England, and the dismantling is happening very rapidly, if you think there’s a crisis in Scotland it’s nothing like what’s going on – and I’m here south of the border, both at times in London and in Newcastle – it’s nothing like the scale of the devastation that’s being now wrought in England.
Which is why we need the NHS in England restored, so that then the politicians south of the border will be committed to an NHS, and then the funding will come back in.
(The only edit we’ve made in the audio clip is at 2m 12s, to remove a segment with another interviewee. We haven’t altered or edited Prof. Pollock’s words in any way. All emphases are ours.)