By Alasadair Galloway:
Earlier here: https://talkingupscotlandtwo.com/2021/10/16/our-nhs-is-not-in-trouble-because-of-snp-decisions/ points to the partiality of this letter to the Herald (also) on Saturday.
DAVID Crawford (Letters, October 15) writes regarding NHS performance, simplistically blaming Westminster, asserting a worse NHS situation south of the Border, and stating insufficient taxes are returned to Scotland.
Public Health Scotland data reveals a 21 per cent pre-pandemic reduction in inpatient treatments delivered between 2013 and 2019, from 345,000 to 274,000, and consequential spiralling record waiting lists. Much of this is driven by reductions in hospital beds. Despite a growing population, outpatient treatments completed show a slight reduction over the same period, despite additional funding and increased staffing. Again this has contributed to record waiting lists.
Hospital delayed discharges grew to record levels as the pandemic hit in February 2020 with 1,616 beds blocked on average every day compared to a pro-rated England figure of 540, some three times less.
For key diagnostic tests, performance had plummeted to just 80% completed within six weeks by the end of 2019 compared to 96% in England – a huge performance difference and in a vital NHS service. Drug deaths are nearly five times the England level, with funding for residential rehabilitation in Scotland having been cut to the bone. Historic Kings Fund reports found the NHS in England overall slightly outperformed the Scotland NHS.
Analysis by Kevin Hague of the These Islands think tank of Scotland’s national accounts 20/21 (GERS) shows Scotland generated £382 less tax per person than the UK average, and spending of £1,828 more per person. We spend more on everything, literally, so every pound of tax raised in Scotland generates a generous UK premium in return.
The 2021 IFS (Institute for Fiscal Studies) spending report states health spending in Scotland was “10% higher in 2009-10 and just 3% higher in 2019-20” than in England. That is the crux of the issue. It is principally that significant diversion of funding away from our NHS in the last decade by the SNP Government that has caused the NHS waiting times crisis.
Richard Richardson, Glasgow.
But it’s even worse than John pointed out. To some extent this is another episode of my “Bunch of Liars” series. I’ve sent a letter in reply to the Herald. Whether it will be published only time will tell.
It makes two main points
First that had he read the Institute for Fiscal Studies report a bit further than “health spending in Scotland was “10% higher in 2009-10 and just 3% higher in 2019-20” than in England, he would have found that they went on that this is due to “a growing share of the health portfolio’s budget going to early years and adult social care services”, consistent with a decision taken in 2004 by the Scottish Government (ie Labour/ Lib Dem) at that time to focus on preventive medicine and keeping people out of hospital. Moreover the Report goes on to conclude that the evidence, “does not, overall, suggest the apparent ‘squeeze’ in relative health spending levels has led to a relative decline in service performance, at least over the last decade”. Just a pity he couldn’t be bothered to read more of the report?
Secondly, why did he chose 09/10 as his base year? I suppose one reason might be that the last “normal year” was 19/20 (ie just before the pandemic struck) and 09/10 is 10 years earlier. But here’s the thing – in 19/20 capital investment was running at £336 million, but in 09/10 it was £629 million- or most than 86% more. Just what would be doing with all this capital investment? Maybe building the QEUH or the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary? I don’t suppose we are going to do that every decade. Can we believe he didn’t know.
Then there is the reliance on GERS, expressed in the usual ex cathedra, “don’t dare argue with me traitor” sort of way, with no ability to realise that these figures are deeply contested to the extent that many feel they are meaningless. I’ve been on this for even longer than Richard Murphy (though probably to less effect), but one question I have never heard get a reasonable answer is how we are supposed to take seriously views and answers about an independent Scotland based on a report (GERS) on Scotland as a region of the UK. The imputed deficit is stated annually as where an independent Scotland would start without even a scintilla of doubt.
Therefore in dealing with Unionists stating their views, we need to understand not just the view – for they will state that without a shadow of doubt and anyone who doesn’t share it is utterly at fault – but how they arrived at that view.
Little bit of whimsy. While researching for this, I came across this https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/18133011.letters-wrong-claim-scottish-nhs-outperforming-english-counterpart/ – on January 02 2020, much the same points, with much the same data, written by the same author, in reply to the same person? Do you think they might have something going on?
You might also like the following letter 😊