Boyd Peters: Scotland's health is ever more political

The Greek dramatist Aristophanes must have foreseen the arrival of the Scottish referendum on independence.

'Under every stone lurks a politician,' he wrote. And so it is now, north of the border, with less than 100 days until the big vote.

Everyone seems to have an opinion and as the laws of human nature decree, some folk have more opinions than others.

Today I am lobbied by a number of enthusiastic amateur politicians, masquerading as patients, during my morning surgery.

They are all keen to hear which way I lean in the yes/no debate. One has even brought with him a 600-page manifesto and requests that I digest it before his next appointment. 'It's important you know what will happen to health, doctor,' he says, sagely. I nod my appreciation and later ask a colleague to read it on my behalf.

'Please tell me what it says and - perhaps more importantly - what it doesn't say,' I beg her. She is a great deal shrewder than I am and much less likely to end up supporting something with which she might actually disagree in principle.

It reminds me of the time that legendary sitcom hero Father Ted placed a bet on a horse called 'Divorce Referendum'.

Clearly unaware of the irony of it all, the poor fellow fervently shouts out the horse's name as the horses approach the finish line.

'Glory be to God' takes the prize, though, in a thrilling finish. Father Ted's horse was a bit of a donkey, it seems. And now Father Ted looks a bit of a numpty too.

The stakes in the Scotland race are a great deal higher than they were on Craggy Island. They must be - author JK Rowling has just donated £1m to the no campaign.

Although there are now only a couple of months until polling day, like many here - despite the best efforts of my patients - I am still not entirely sure which referendum horse I am going to back. And when I have decided, I certainly won't be telling anyone. Just in case.

  • Dr Peters is a GP in the Scottish Highlands. If you are interested in writing a column for GP, please email

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