Of course the NHS is not free. Prescription charges, like. Or, not so now in Scotland as we follow Wales and Northern Ireland in abolishing prescription charges.
It is a fairly good bet that one of the first comments on this thread will refer to the likes of the Scandinavian model which Alex Salmond is keen to follow and which emulates the British model… oh wait. It should be noted, that this is not a move which Scottish Labour is keen to criticize. I am not sure what Scottish LibDems have to say, but it will be utterly incoherent.
On this issue, however, I will share the inevitable wing-nut’s misgivings. Before this, already 90% of patients were exempt – unemployed, under 16s (or 19s, and in full-time education), over 60s, pregnant women and any number of designated health conditions – and this will result in the Scottish authorities needing to find some £57 millions.
So, already most of the emotive categories of desperately ill or needy and impoverished was covered. Loopholes such as exemptions for type-I diabetes but not asthma and eczema existed. Yet, given the acceptance of the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly that they are implementing their own post-code lottery for communities straddling the borders, objection to this only can be due to scale not principle.
And, as a chronic asthmatic with eczema, I would not be adverse to paying for my medication. If I required an excessive amount, I could buy a pre-payment certificate for some £30 per quarter with an greater discount for a year.
Add to the ever-increasing charges in England, which shortly will rise to £7.40. Responsibility to ensure that the Scottish Government does not over-stretch its financial reach lies with Scottish voters like me. This includes impressing on it awareness that these monies are paid for predominately by those tax-payers now exposed to prescription charges in England.
Maybe a fiscally responsible Scotland – to use a current catchword now that those seeing an arc of prosperity have been shown to have been away with the Faroes – could raise the £10 billions currently costing NHS Scotland per year. This, however, does not take into account the synergy which arises from association with the wider NHS. There will be no use pointing to that Scandinavian model, for reasons I have mentioned.
It has been suggested that the matter of prescription charges will be a turning-point for separatism, not just in the Scottish mood. If it persists, with tax-payers in England carrying the weight of never-ending largess from the Calvinist Republic of Scotland which has convinced itself that it is one the Elect, I can see that happening.
Alternatively, as with so much of what happens when the CRS tries to go it alone, this could the countdown to another failed manifesto pledge for the Holyrood elections, and sink like a clootie dumpling in the Moray Firth.