Feature Briefing

Scottish health in a post-independence world

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g4456 (Published 17 July 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g4456
  1. Clare Dyer, legal correspondent
  1. 1The BMJ, London, UK
  1. claredyer4{at}gmail.com

Clare Dyer considers the consequences for patients and doctors if the Scottish people vote yes in September

On 18 September, Scotland could be set on a course that will end its 307 year old political union with England. If a majority of Scotland’s voters select the box marked “Yes” Scotland will become an independent nation, no longer part of the United Kingdom. Yet most of the detail of the country’s future as a standalone state remains to be filled in. In healthcare, as in many other aspects of Scottish life, there are many questions but few definitive answers.

How would independence affect the day to day running of the NHS in Scotland?

This is one area that is likely to be largely unaffected because responsibility for health is already devolved to the four countries that make up the UK. The Scottish government already controls the NHS in Scotland and its budget. Scotland’s health system has substantial differences from the system in England. The private sector, for example, has a minimal role north of the border. But the Scots would need new laws to cover areas reserved to the UK government by …

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