Under the headline Modern day Border raiders
! This week's Berwickshire
features a claim by the local Scottish Nationalist Party Member of the Scottish Parliament that the new Reivers are those underpriveleged English from Northumbria who cross the Border, not to steal sheep or reduce the population of virgins (or Vice Versa) but to take advantage of Scottish health services.
"Evidence has emerged (says the Berwickshire)that people living in Northumberland are unhappy about the level of service they are receiving and regularly cross the Border to take advantage of a range of services"
A man from Cornhill said: "If anything goes wrong, we jump in the car and go up to the Borders General Hospital, near Melrose. The first thing you notice at a Scottish hospital is that you don't get threatened with wheel-clamping. You don't even have to pay for car parking."
Christine Grahame MSP claims the additional demand on services is disadvantaging Borderers at a time when the Council is looking to make hundreds of redundancies and the local health board is closing cottage hospitals as part of a massive efficiency drive. "I sympathise entirely with those who feel that the level of service in the North of England is poor but as things stand it is Borders taxpayers who will be effectively financing this modern day equivalent of the Border raids."
Ms Grahame says she plans to investigate further the extent of the cross Border raids and the impact on local services to determine the numbers involved. She added: "I have no difficulty with providing additional help to those in the North of England if we have surplus funds available in the health and council budgets, but time and again we are being told that no extra money is available. We need to ensure that Borderers and Scottish residents are given priority and that the burden on local services is not exacerbated and therefore we must look seriously at ways to curb these cross Border raids taking place or at least ensure that the services provided are not done so Scot-free
." (to coin a phrase, presumably)
Euan Robson, Lib-Dem MSP for Roxburgh and Berwickshire quite rightly rubbishes this latest offering from the SNP,saying that sharing necessary services across the Border should be encouraged rather than frowned upon.
""The outburst from Christine Grahame, was both unfortunate and ignorant. There are many cross border links in health services that have existed for years and rightly so."This has been routine with reciprocal funding in place and ought to be encouraged to make the best use of all facilities in the interests of patients.
"A number of services: dentistry, some accident and emergency, physiotherapy and others are available in Berwick upon Tweed. Conversely, Northumbrians use Borders General Hospital and other facilities. (And Huttonian knows of a number of patients referred by local GPs to Warnbeck Hospital near Newcastle in raider ridden Northumberland)"To block off the border would disrupt patient care and convenience, would give some patients a second best option, would in some circumstances put lives at risk, would increase costs and artificially separate the medical needs of families whose members may live on either side of the border all in the name of petty, unrepresentative nationalism."
"Petty unrepresentative nationalism" Nice ring. I wish I had said that!*
* You will, Huttonian, you will" (Blog-ed)