The IFS “observation” on funding Scotland’s NHS ignores the key risk to the NHS within the UK
By Jim and Margaret Cuthbert (12 Sept 2014)
On 11th September, Paul Johnson and David Phillips of the Institute for Fiscal Studies produced an “observation”, (their description), on the question of the funding of the NHS in Scotland. This was widely hailed in the media as an authoritative “report”, casting serious doubt on the claim that the future of the NHS in Scotland was at risk in the event of a “no” vote. It also added apparent credence to Gordon Brown’s “I’m going to nail the lie” speech on the NHS.
Remarkably, however, as we will see, the IFS observation makes no reference whatsoever to the central danger to the NHS in Scotland under continuation of the union: namely, that privatisation of health provision in England, would, via the Barnett formula, impose such severe financial constraints on the Scottish budget that a future Scottish government would be forced down a privatisation road. Since they do not deal with this central issue, the IFS document is actually completely irrelevant to the current debate. However, because of the uncritical coverage it received in the media, its flaws have to be exposed and its argument rebutted.
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