Our NHS is NOT in trouble because of SNP decisions Part 2

Humza Yousaf requests military assistance for NHS boards stretched by  pandemic
None of them can do emergencies? Alister didn’t tell me that.
Image: Holyrood

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 😊

4 thoughts on “Our NHS is NOT in trouble because of SNP decisions Part 2

  1. So much of these ”facts” on Scotland rely heavily on the non-factual GERS guesstimates .

    Or , put another way – Why aren’t you ungrateful Jocks down on your bended knees ( courtesy of your knee replacement surgery funded by the benevolent English taxpayer ) thanking the altruistic English for their forbearance at the complete lack of gratitude emanating from the subsidy hungry Scots who take . take , take and give nothing in return ?


  2. Not sure I want to read liars’ letters here in full, not sure I want to analyse it either. Waste of time and energy.
    We all know how the 100% anti Scottish anti SNP media twist even the most positive policies of the Scottish government, that’s what needs to be called out.
    GERS is a massive CON, most people in Scotland know that. The ‘imputed deficit’ that the English government attributes to Scotland is a complete myth, but they never fail to tell Scotland how poor it is, it’s bullying, it’s gas lighting, it’s the biggest damn scam of the century! Richard Murphy has reported on it via his excellent blog, it’s he I would ask if you have any doubts about Scotland’s ability to function as a successful independent country. We know it’s more than able, Scotland’s wealth is being stolen and has been for centuries. The oil money alone is a tragedy, the English government have stolen £trillions, not billions, but they kept Scotland poor, drugged, and unhealthy so that they could keep taking Scotland’s massive wealth. The Labour branch fill your pockets party in Scotland, did nothing whatsoever for Scotland, not one good thing! They plunged Scotland into £BILLIONS of ‘debt’ with their PFI scams though, still being paid by our councils, and they sent £1.5 BILLIOB BACK TO WESTMINSTER saying ‘ nothing to spend it on in Scotland’. Not health, education, infrastructure, jobs, housing social care, nope, ‘ nothing’. Absolutely criminal!
    Lastly, the block grant that the English government condescends to hand back to Scotland once they have taken their cut (Scotland’s huge revenues) was actually higher when Labour HQ’d in London, were at the helm in Scotland for ten years. I want to know what they did with the money, where did they spend it, and what on?
    Maybe you could look into it and report back?


    1. Art, one of the best bits of advice I ever had was that it was always important to know what the enemy are thinking, so while sometimes I end up feeling like a I need a shower, I still read their stuff.
      One of the things that is becoming apparent is that they dont have that much that is new – it’s 2014 all over again. I also suspect that in their long dark night of the soul they know the game is up and that they will lose the next time – that is why they are so aggressive, and so determined not to win the next referendum but prevent it from happening at all.
      The issue now, imo, is to prepare the Scottish electorate for the possibility that the independence campaign will have to move to non parliamentary action such as non-violent campaigns (we will probably get a good tutorial in that from the eco groups actions at COP26, though the BBC will clearly be hostile).
      1. Many do recognise the bias of the BBC – you can see that from the trust levels placed in it, according to successive polls
      2. GERS is a massive con, but how many people not even just know that, but understand it and how it’s done. What they hear are third raters like Hague presenting their GERS based view with the kind of faux authority that they do. It doesnt work as it did in 2014, but it needs a bit more of a push. This can either be by confronting it and proving it wrong, as Richard Murphy has done for instance. OR, there is the possibility of convincing people that it doesnt matter. I worried about the management of expectations in 2014 – everything was going to be great right after the Union flag was lowered for the last time. That is optimism which just isnt justified. We need to be clear – as Mark Blyth for instance has – that the first few years will be difficult but in due course it WILL be worth it. That approach totally undermines such as Hague
      3. The Labour/ Lib Dems sent the money back. It took Salmond to fight for being able to carry it forward to subsequent year.


  3. Thanks Alasdair, for digging up an old letter of yours truly.

    It ended with “cringing subservience of the Scottish Office and its usually-unrepresentative office-bearer”.

    Could the present denizen of the Scottish Office even be described as an “office-bearer”: someone who doesn’t even recognise the status of Scotland as a national entity?
    Add to him as his deputy, the purchaser of a Peerage, and a seat in a legislature for life, and we can see the real depth of Tory corruption of the very concept of “democracy”!

    Both these people, like other Tories have had a life of “making” money in the City. Will they be able to use their “insider” positions to enhance their wealth?


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