The NHS and Independence is moving up the agenda.
The No side says that the NHS is already devolved, so Independence will make no difference, but this is hugely simplistic, because of two key factors, funding and the TTIP trans-Atlantic trade agreement.
In the event of a No vote the NHS would remain devolved, but there would be a major review of funding for Scotland. This would involve a cut in the funding paid to Scotland via the Barnett formula in return for tax raising powers. So far so good. But the problem is that the tax raising powers won’t give Scottish Government control of the whole tax system, only income tax. This is a tax which governments generally find very difficult to increase because of its direct effect on voters. It also doesn’t allow tax to be increased on other sources of income such as capital gains, property or corporate profit. So changes to funding for Scotland in the event of No vote would most likely result to cuts in the money available to Scottish Government. This is bound to have detrimental effects on all public services including the NHS.
The second factor is TTIP the proposed TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. This sweeping piece of legislation is being negotiated well away from the limelight. Ostensibly its purpose is to increase American investment in the EU. In practice it will give US companies sweeping powers to circumvent EU legislation, and give them the right to provide services which are currently in the public sector like the NHS. America is not noted for its excellent, free point of use healthcare system!
Under TTIP, American healthcare companies would be able to bid to run NHS services. Their bid might well undercut existing providers, but this could be because their funding model involves charging patients. Monsanto run doctors surgeries or Haliburton run hospitals would be a possibility.
The UK Government has given no indication that it will protect the NHS from the effects of TTIP or that it will offer anything other than the power to vary income tax in exchange for removal of the Barnett formula, therefore the NHS will not be safe in the event of a No Vote.