Today, the people of Scotland will cast their landmark vote on whether to break away from the UK and become an independent nation. By this time tomorrow, they will have unequivocally answered the single burning question: “Yes” or “No.” But in medical circles, a raft of deeper questions about the potential impact on healthcare will remain largely unanswered.
As the vote has drawn closer, The BMJ has tracked doctors’ views. A recent snapshot survey of 300 doctors working in Scotland revealed that 60% were intending to vote “no” to independence. Many of these were prompted by concerns about how medical research and staff recruitment would be affected in an independent Scotland.
There are also fears that a drain on NHS funding would occur if Scotland goes it alone. But the debate has not been one sided, with some believing that an independent Scotland would be better placed to resist and reject the commercialisation that has now infused the NHS in England.
And, as Abi Rimmer discusses in this BMJ Careers article, a “yes” vote could spark big changes to medical regulation, given that the General Medical Council currently oversees the whole of the UK.
If the country does vote “yes,” expect today’s question to be the first of many in a new independent Scotland.
Gareth Iacobucci is news reporter for The BMJ.