IT was hugely significant that the auditor general recently reported that poor mental health cost the Scottish economy £8.8 billion in 2019.

In comparison, NHS boards spent £1.2bn on adult mental health in 2021/22.

Worse than the financial cost is the human cost, the misery of the people affected and their families, friends and communities. The human cost of long NHS waiting times is similar.

You may be not thinking about it if you are lucky enough not to be affected but that could easily change. Some of those caring people who work in mental health and the wider NHS are leaving due to stress because they cannot provide the service patients need due to lack of resources.

These problems are principally a result of UK Government austerity economics policies introduced in 2010 by the LibDem-Conservative coalition government. Its specific goal was to cut back on public spending.

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What is particularly annoying is that according to recent NHS Confederation research, a growth in healthcare investment would result in economic growth equivalent to four times the amount put in. Clearly, fewer people would be ill and waiting for treatment and could be productive members of society.

Austerity economics policies are not saving money but are affecting the economy negatively. Yet they have been enforced by all UK governments since 2010. Before this, Tony Blair’s Labour government extensively used PFI to invest in hospitals, schools etc, which resulted in these costing several times the actual building cost.

Scottish Government funding is adversely affected by UK Government austerity economic decisions. Scottish governments can’t borrow money and can’t increase the quantity of currency to increase resources such as additional NHS hospitals – which wouldn’t reduce the strength of the currency.

The UK Government could do but chooses not to. Why not, given that research indicates that NHS investment results in economic growth and given the severe consequences of not doing so?

The National: NHS

Is it incompetence or is it uncaring? Is the wellbeing of the people a secondary priority to benefiting private medical companies and private health insurance companies?

Do they actually want poorer people to be too depressed and stressed to not be able to think about what politicians are doing, such as reducing their human rights?

At least the Scottish Government, understanding the importance of the NHS for the wellbeing of the people and the economy, continues to fund free prescriptions, while a single prescription costs £9.65 in England.

The Scottish Government negotiated with NHS staff to avoid strikes in Scotland, unlike in England. Scottish students have free tuition fees for further education whereas tuition fees in England are up to £9250 per year.

Imagine what could be achieved if we were independent and had the freedom to increase resources using financial options available to a country with its own currency.

Austerity economics cuts to the NHS, education, housing, policing and so on were imposed by UK governments run by parties which did not have the majority of seats in Scotland.

On top of that serious lack of true democracy, unlike most countries, the UK does not have a written “codified constitution” which can constrain a government’s decisions. UK governments are therefore free to make these decisions.

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An independent Scotland should have a written codified constitution which could dictate that a health service free at point of use must be available to all. It could also include human rights and, for example, the right to free education.

A “codified constitution” states the fundamental rights of citizens. A government can’t change anything covered in the constitution unless the people agree.

Take the opportunity to look at and participate at This includes a model constitution written in easily understood language. It was set up not as a proposed constitution for Scotland but as a basis on which you can participate.

Article 2 covers the rights of the people. Within it, Section 2.11 indicates: “All citizens have the right to free, quality healthcare at the point of need, subject to available resources.” Some might feel an amendment should be made to remove “subject to available resources”. On the other hand, some might support including “currency supply must increase if necessary to finance the availability of such resources”.

The more people who participate in this consultation, the more likely it is that input could be an important democratic source for a body such as a Constitutional Convention or Citizens’ Assembly, set up to discuss and prepare the constitution for Scotland following a vote for independence. So please participate and encourage others to do so. is a registered Scottish Charity with the aim of advancing participative democracy within the community of Scotland.

You can read more than 1000 comments across 15 articles and participate in preparing a Scottish Constitution. So why not join in and have your say in how you think an independent Scotland should be governed?

 For interested groups, the Constitution for Scotland team offers a “guest speaker” introduction, demonstration and Q&A session within your own Zoom meeting. Please contact to arrange