The Radical Center
Published in

The Radical Center

Scotland’s Health Care 2: Memes are for Morons Update

NHS patients waiting to be seen at hospital

It seems the more vociferous an opinion the flimsier the evidence to support it. To back up such vociferous opinions people resort to the bizarre—such as citing memes to back up their claims—memes which are unverified and often entirely mythical.

Take this meme popular in some circles.

Imagine that, just £10 a month! Yes, that is the equivalent of about $13 at current rates, but’s about all that is accurate in this meme. This individual might be unemployed and living on welfare, which may explain why he pays little in the way of taxes but the idea that 4% of income taxes in Scotland goes to the National Health Service is false. Also keep in mind all numbers are before the pandemic hit so increase them substantially for accuracy.

The Scottish government said, “Health and care funding will rise to more than £15 billion for the first time under the 2020–21 Budget.” Actually it was £15.2 billion or £15.3 billion as sources list both. Based on the population of Scotland that’s £2,807 per person, a wee bit more that £10 per month. Thats $3661.87 per person in dollar terms. In pizza terms, based on the large pizza I bought a couple days ago, it’s the equivalent of 366 pizzas not 12.

That’s not all of it either. While the budget may be £15.3 billion actual spending is considerably more and deficits are spiraling (and this was before covid). Last October the BBC reported:

Without reform the Scottish government predicts there will be an increase in spending across health and social care in Scotland to about £20.6bn by 2023/24.

However, the report said there could be a £1.8bn shortfall in the projected funding.

‘We can’t just buy our way out of this,’ the auditor general said.”

Scotland’s NHS has consistently spent more than budgeted and has been racking up deficits that will eventually come due. The deficits vary from year to year but they are consistent.

The Scotsman reported: “BMA Scotland chairman Dr Lewis Morrison said the report “overall paints a stark picture of the parlous state of our NHS. ‘It is clear our NHS is seriously struggling to become financially sustainable.’”

But the deficits are kept artifically low by shortages in NHS staffing. Don’t hire doctors and you don’t have to pay them.

The Herald (Scotland) reported:

Unions have warned Scotland is facing a “chronic shortage” of doctors as new figures show there are 480 consultant posts vacant across the NHS.

BMA Scotland voiced its concerns about the “substantial long-term gaps” in the medical workforce as the latest figures on NHS staffing were published.

Meanwhile, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Scotland said the number of nursing staff was “simply not keeping pace with the number of people they are expected to care for”.

Of course the under-staffing means long queues for medical treatment, even if you get your pizzas quickly.

The Sunday Post mentioned how Scotland has dramatically cut medical services even as it spends more and more each year.

Analysis of NHS Scotland figures reveals the number of beds lost since 2009 is the equivalent of closing three hospitals the size of the new £900 million Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow.

Meanwhile, thousands of patients are waiting longer for treatment than deadlines fixed in law. Today we reveal how the condition of many deteriorates badly as they wait, while others die before being admitted to hospital for postponed and delayed surgery.

Dr Dave Chung, head of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine in Scotland, said: “We run out of beds frequently — in fact every day — in Scotland. It’s obvious that we need more beds.

“There are hidden costs of ­waiting for surgery and often the patient pays this. People can be injured if they become infirm while waiting for surgery and become sicker in the long term. Every study has shown that it is cheaper to be treated early.”

NHS Scotland ­figures show the number of hospital beds has fallen by almost a quarter in the past 10 years, from 26,280 in 2009 to 20,250 in 2019.

While hospital budgets rose from £5.4 billion a year to £6.8bn in the same period, more than 250,000 people have waited longer than the legally binding 12-week treatment time guarantee since the target was introduced in 2012.

Only 83.3% of patients were treated within 62 days in the last quarter to September — well below the 95% target.

If you think that’s bad remember this was BEFORE Covid-19. The Sunday Times of London reported with Covid-19 wait times for medical care increased and deaths went up—not due to Covid itself, but because people were still waiting for care for other problems.

Deaths of patients on NHS waiting lists in Scotland doubled during the lockdown, an investigation has revealed.

Surgeons have warned that hospitals must never again be forced to cancel all planned procedures, after figures showed 381 people died in the queue for operations between April and June.

Our meme merchant claimed just 4% of all income taxes pay for the National Health Service. If that were true it should have Scots up in arms. If 4% of all income taxes paid 42% of the national budget than 9.5% of all income taxes would pay off the full budget, so where does the other 91.5% go? Obviously that figure is pulled out of thin air for the gullible people who share memes.

If you lived in Scotland and earned $16,251.30 per year you would pay $3087.75 in income taxes. Now at least 42% of that is going to the NHS. Of course the more you earn the more you pay. That’s just the obvious tax a lower income person would pay in Scotland. For every dollar, or pound, they spend on goods and services they pay a value added tax of another 20%. Of course, that’s not all the taxes the government collects either, just the most obvious two. What’s this mean? If you earned the minimum of $16,251.30, you pay $3087.75 in income taxes, leaving you a paltry $13.001.04 to spend on your needs. As you do you’ll pay $2,600.20 in additional VAT on that spending. Your total tax burden, with just income taxes and VAT added is $5687.95 or about 35% of your paltry income. If medical care takes 42% of the budget it takes roughly 42% of the taxes. That’s not the $130 per year this meme claimed but $2388 per year for those earning less that $17,000 per year. For those earning more, it’s higher.

Stop believing memes, they are landmines often filled with falsehood and lies that should make even Donald Trump blush with embarassment.

For our previous take on this see this article. The above includes further updates on Scottish health care.


Your support to fund these columns is important, visit our page at Patreon.

We will be moving all material that was behind the Medium pay wall to free views. It reduced readership substantially and was not a significant source of income. So, from not on our only support for this work is your donations via Patreon — even $1 a month adds up.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store