WE were very disappointed that Dr Anna Gregor has chosen to accuse colleagues of abusing our privileged position of trust to lie, scaremonger, cause distress and panic to patients ("Doctor hits out at colleagues 'lying' about NHS future", The Herald, August 21).

Doctors supporting a Yes vote believe that the Scottish NHS is best protected through independence. It does have full control administra­tively, but does not have control over its own budget (which accounts for 40 per cent of the Scottish block grant).

The use of the private sector in England is proceeding rapidly, with 70 per cent of recent contracts handed to private providers. Costs to run the internal market were reported at £4.5 billion (Centre for Health and the Public Interest, February 2014) and not far short of the entire annual staff costs for NHS Scotland.

The private sector in NHS Scotland is by comparison small, at well under one per cent, or £100 million from a budget of £11.5bn. Smaller, as Alex Neil pointed out, than the PFI bill of £220m per year for 30 years inherited from the last Labour administration. It is also vastly smaller than the £10.6bn now being paid for private work in England (with a further £5.6bn in contracts now out to tender).

The increasing use of the private sector in England, of self-funding by patients and of patient charges, will inevitably lead to a reduction in the state contribution to NHS funds. This will have a direct knock-on effect on the block grant allocation to Scotland. The Scottish Government has protected our NHS for the last four years by diverting the cutbacks to other spending streams, but that flexibility is gone and the further cuts we have been promised will inevitably affect our NHS.

Neither is the Scottish NHS exempt from a controversial transatlantic trade deal (TTIP) which could lay public services open to competition from the private sector. David Cameron has not yet negotiated the exemption of the Scottish NHS, as called for by the Scottish Government.

Dr Philippa Whitford, like most of us, holds the NHS very dear, as mentioned in your editorial ("Facts not fear in debate on NHS", The Herald, August 21). As doctors and public servants it would be irresponsible not to raise or voice concerns over the future of our NHS.

Scotland is tied to a political system which is undermining public services and bolstering private profits, whilst overseeing vast increases in child poverty. We are glad that Dr Whitford took the step to publicly warn us about the real risks to the future of the NHS and applaud her bravery to speak out. We also welcome a Yes vote and protection for a publicly-owned, free NHS within a written constitution.

Catriona Pagliari, Craig Wales, Mike Lean, Hugh Bishop, Robert George, Maire Cooney, Tim Adams, Alan MacDonald, Karen Smith, Michelle Quilter, Neil McKenzie, Richard Barker,

Consultants in NHS Scotland,

NHS for Yes, 136 Hope Street, Glasgow.