Readers' letters: ‘Poor little Scotland’ is being held back

This week both the OECD and IMF forecast low growth for Great Britain’s economy over the next year, with the expected figures the lowest of any developed nation, bar sanction-hit Russia.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 11th June 2022, 7:00 am
The Queen officially opens the Crossrail line in London named after her
The Queen officially opens the Crossrail line in London named after her

Given the self-inflicted economic harm from Brexit and the absence of meaningful post-Brexit opportunities, this is no surprise; the country is also struggling with higher inflation than our EU neighbours and other adverse post-Brexit economic consequences, for example the exclusion of our scientific community from world-leading EU programmes.

This also highlights the stark disconnect between Scotland’s theoretical wealth and its economic reality, and explains why equivalent size developed countries (Denmark and Ireland being two neighbouring examples) are much better off than Scotland.

According to the World Bank, GDP per person in Denmark is $60,230 and in Ireland $93,350 – compared with a low and flatlining $46,483 for the UK. In terms of per capita GDP, both of these “little” countries are significantly more prosperous than us.

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British government GERS accounting reports Scotland’s notional deficit as £36bn. However GERS allocates costs of large ‘national’ projects to Scotland as a GB Region, whether we use them or not, such as the HS2 rail project (Phase 1 Budget £45 billion), Kent’s Hinkley Point nuclear power station (estimated cost £25bn) and London’s CrossRail (estimated cost £19 bn).

This explains the disconnect. Scotland (population 5.3 million) is trapped inside an isolated and declining GB economy and charged a contribution towards our larger neighbour’s capital infrastructure programmes. In contrast Denmark (pop. 5.8m) and Ireland (pop. 4.9m) are flourishing and connected.

The only route to a successful and prosperous Scotland, that is able to realise the benefits of its own considerable wealth, is independence and membership of the EU single market.

D Jamieson, Dunbar

Healthy disrespect for Murray’s stance

If Ian Murray’s English Labour party can’t get a grip on the health service in Wales, what makes him think it can do any better in Scotland (News, 9 June)? Waiting lists in Wales have increased 51 per cent since the pandemic’s onset, with 700,000 patients, a quarter of the population, waiting for treatment.

As for England, when it comes to A&E waiting times, Scotland’s health service is 22 per cent better than England’s and leads the UK. Due to a lack of beds, NHS England has sent 100 women to Scotland for eating disorder treatment since 2017 at a cost of £10m. Scotland has nearly twice as many patient beds as England or Northern Ireland and 15 per cent more than Wales.

Scotland has met skin cancer diagnosis targets for more than 96 per cent of referrals and has increased the number of radiologists to detect other cancers. It has improved annual psychological services performance despite a massive increase in demand.

The reason Scotland’s health service outperforms the rest of the UK is simple. Staffing for nurses, midwives, doctors, dentists and allied health professionals is at a record high and has increased for ten years in a row. Scotland has 76 GPs per 100k whereas England has just 58. The Scottish Government, which must balance its budget because it lacks the borrowing powers of an independent nation, has still managed to resource its health service better than any other part of the UK. It has retained its 14 health boards and resisted privatisation, unlike England. Oh, and prescriptions are free.

Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh

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