The NHS and the English question

I suppose it was inevitable that within two days of Vernon Bogdanor telling us not to worry about the English question, it would hit the front page of the Daily Mail:

Scandal of this medical apartheid

Years of life expectancy for cancer patients who happen to be Scottish … the prospect of a much earlier death for similar sufferers in England … whatever happened to our supposedly National Health Service? (Daily Mail)

In fairness, to Bogdanor, he did point out that differential outcomes are part of the logic of a devolved system. It’s also true, however, that those differences are much less defensible when one country is at a political disadvantage.

I’m not normally one for Mail scare stories, but there is a legitimate issue here. It’s fair enough for England and Scotland to make different choices. What’s not fair is that Scottish MPs should still exercise a potentially decisive say over England’s choices, and use it to push England in a direction very different from the one being pursued in Scotland.

If Gordon Brown has any sense, he will be having a quite word with the people from National Institute for Clinical Excellence.



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