A freedom of information request has revealed a letter from the NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) service, which manages organ transplants across the whole UK, confirming that it expects cross-border healthcare agreements to remain in force after Scotland becomes independent.

The letter was sent to Tory MSP Nanette Milne in August 2013, but was not made public by the Conservatives at any point.

The letter states that “NHSBT would expect this reciprocal agreement to continue if Scotland does agree to independence as the arrangement offers additional security to all four blood services.”

It also confirms that “NHSBT has representation on the Scottish Transplant Group and, in addition to this, senior members of NHSBT have regular discussions with Scottish Government officials. From these discussions I can confirm that NHSBT and Scottish Government do not believe that there would be any significant change to the relationship or the management of organ donation and transplantation in the event of independence.”

The NHS Blood and Transplant service and its counterparts in other parts of the UK already work closely with the Irish Health Service Executive – showing cross-border cooperation already operates well in practice.

Commenting, South of Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine said:

“This letter may not have been the negative response the No campaign was looking for, but people in Scotland deserve to know that vital cross-border healthcare will continue after a Yes vote.

“In the South of Scotland region I represent there are obviously many people living in very close proximity to the Border with England, naturally they are likely to be worried by the false claims coming from the No camp that Independence will affect cross-border healthcare agreements.
“It is disappointing that the anti-independence parties didn’t want this important reassurance made public, but I hope that now we have been able to publish it they will welcome the certainty it gives to NHS patients on both sides of the border.

“The NHS Blood and Transplant service makes it perfectly clear that they expect the reciprocal arrangement with NHS Scotland that currently exists to continue after Scotland becomes independent.

“That is an entirely sensible position and one that confirms that an independent Scotland will of course cooperate closely with the rest of the UK on all kinds of issues where it is in our mutual interest to do so.”


Copies of Nanette Milne’s letter to NHSBT and their response revealed under FoI legislation are attached.

Speaking on GMS on 12 February 2014, Tory Deputy Leader Jackson Carlaw previously made clear that he does not believe a Yes vote would cause any problems for healthcare in Scotland, stating: “I believe in staying with the union but let me say if Scotland did vote for independence, Scotland’s health service would continue, people would continue to be treated and I believe it would prosper.”

pdf icon 13-08-07-Nanette-Milne.pdf
pdf icon Nanette-Milne-letter.pdf