- Scottish voters on Thursday resoundingly rejected a historic proposal to declare independence from the United Kingdom in a 55-45% vote. Overall, 15% of all of the UK's healthcare funding goes to Scotland even though the country comprises a mere 8.4% of the total UK population.
- In 1999, Scotland took operational control of the Scottish National Health Service (NHS). Five years later, the country completely reorganized the structure of its NHS.
- Though various political parties have come out on both sides of the independence debate -- arguing the various negative implications that a 'yes' or 'no' vote could have for healthcare -- physicians' groups, including the British Medical Association, have remained neutral publicly. But businesses -- including the pharma sector -- are breathing a sigh of relief at having dodged an uncertain fiscal and monetary policy future.
A significant part of the debate over independence in Scotland hinged on the issue of healthcare funding. The left-of-center Scottish National Party argued that only an independent Scotland could be free of the constant threat of curtailed healthcare appropriations from the UK authorities. By contrast, the Labour Party Leader, David Miliband, warned that independence could cost Scotland $1.64 billion per year in healthcare funding.
Since the final vote did not endorse independence, Scottish citizens will continue to enjoy certain benefits, including free prescriptions, while the funding stream at the NHS level continues uninterrupted -- much to the relief of many stakeholders in the system.