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BMA calls for public debate on NHS after Scotland shuns independence

Politicians must refocus on the long-term sustainability of the NHS and make patient care a ‘priority’ in the wake of the Scottish independence referendum which saw the ‘No’ campaign secure 55% of the votes, the BMA has said.

Dr Peter Bennie, chairman of the BMA in Scotland, said there needed to be an ‘honest debate’ on the future of the country’s health service in the midst of a recruitment crisis, an ageing population and falling NHS budgets.

‘Hard-pressed NHS services in hospitals and communities are running on the goodwill of doctors and staff,’ said Dr Bennie. ‘ This is not a sustainable solution for the NHS in Scotland.  It is time to have an honest, public debate about the future of our NHS and how we can continue to deliver high-quality care within financial constraints.’

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Dr Bennie stressed that, with health being devolved, the NHS can continue to focus on co-operation across the health service in Scotland, rather than the approach being taken in England of ‘competition and commercialisation’.

‘Although the outcome of the referendum has been determined, the as yet undefined offers of further devolution of powers to Scotland may have a significant impact on our health service,’ he added.

Writing exclusively for Pulse, Dr Alan McDevitt, chair of the BMA’s Scottish GPC and a GP in Clydebank, said that now was the time for the Government to urgently address the issues facing GPs that were ‘threatening the quality of care that we can provide to our patients’.