Scotland

White Paper: Health, wellbeing and social protection

BBC Scotland's health correspondent Eleanor Bradford analyses the part of the White Paper that looks at health, wellbeing and social protection.

After independence, and if the SNP won the Holyrood election in 2016:

Pensioners would be better off as state pensions would increase by inflation, earnings or 2.5%, whichever is higher.

Changes to the benefits system would be abolished:

  • The "bedroom tax" would end within the first year of an independent Scottish Parliament.
  • The rollout of a single Universal Credit for the unemployed would be halted.
  • Personal Independence Payments for people with disabilities would also be halted.

Further changes to the benefits system are to be recommended by an expert working group before the referendum.

Free personal and nursing care and free bus passes for the elderly would continue.

The state pension would rise to 66 in 2020 (in line with the rest of the UK) but an independent commission would advise on any changes after that.

The minimum wage would be increased in line with inflation and a "Scottish living wage" would be "promoted".

Social justice commitments would be protected by a written constitution.

There would be a "guarantee" of employment, education or training for young people.

"Cross-border" arrangements with the NHS would continue, especially for people needing highly complex treatment only available at specialist centres in England.

The NHS would continue to be run in the same way (no England-style reform).

Independence would allow the government to ban adverts for unhealthy foods and to tax unhealthy foods (a 'fat tax') but there are no specific commitments on this.

There would be co-operation with the rest of the UK on organ donation including just one register for everyone and sharing of donated organs (as already happens with the UK and Ireland).

Separate regulation of health professionals (eg the GMC) but would work in partnership with the rest of the UK.

The Scottish government sees no "significant barriers" to Scotland achieving Olympic and Paralympic accreditation and being able to participate as an independent nation at Rio 2016.