ANYONE who watched John Pilger's excellent documentary this week on the direction of the NHS and the appalling predicament faced by US patients who cannot afford healthcare would feel horror at the prospect of adopting a similar model here.

The film, 'The Dirty War on the NHS', could not be broadcast on television earlier due to rules restricting what can go out during an election campaign.

As Pilger himself noted on Twitter, this was ironic given that its theme - the sell-off of the NHS - had been "at the forefront of British politics".

It might not have averted the Tory landslide (the result was a verdict on Brexit and Jeremy Corbyn, with the health service as an afterthought), but it summarised why such an outcome is probably bad news.

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Much of the documentary focused on the situation in England where privatisation has crept in to a much more pernicious degree. The disastrous case of Hinchingbrooke hospital, the first NHS facility run by a private company, was a case in point.

Within five years the firm had pulled out blaming financial pressures, but this happened to coincide with a damning inspection report rating the service as 'inadequate'.

A senior nurse was in tears recalling how staff had been pitted against one another in a daily contest to free up beds by finding patients to discharge - potentially before they were really ready.

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Scotland has escaped some of the worst reforms partly because we did not implement 2012's Health and Social Care Act, which encouraged the treatment of private patients within NHS hospitals as a source of income.

By 2015/16, some 1,142 beds were being set aside in NHS hospitals in England for patients paying for their operations - an initiative generating £600 million a year for NHS coffers.

Although this also takes place in Scotland, it is on a much smaller scale (a Herald investigation last year found that £13.2m had been gathered from 8,500 private patients treated in NHS Scotland facilities since 2012).

In Scotland, no beds were specifically ring-fenced for private patients (clients?).

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But, like NHS England, we have embraced private finance to build new hospitals only to see health budgets strangled by crippling PFI debt repayments. Funds that might have been invested in patient care, extra staff or keeping facilities open are sucked away, often ending up in tax havens.

Like England, we also rely too heavily on costly private hospitals to help clear waiting lists.

Scotland's health system is devolved, of course, but so much bad practice seeps across the border than in the end perhaps the best argument for independence will be the impetus to save the NHS.