Scotland’s crisis-hit NHS is to begin a “programme of reparations” to Jamaica and Africa in a bid to “make amends” for a hospital’s slavery links dating from the 18th century. The Telegraph has the story.
An NHS Lothian report found that, in today’s money, the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh had profited by almost £40 million from slavery, including through ownership of a small Caribbean slave plantation, left to it in a surgeon’s will in 1750.
It claimed that Scotland’s historic healthcare system had been “part funded by slavery” and that the hospital had been “built on and sustained by the horrific enslavement and cruel exploitation of enslaved peoples”.
While the reparations are not expected to involve direct repayment of the £39.1 million, the NHS Lothian board is expected to approve a series of measures on Wednesday designed to redress its part in a “crime against humanity”.
It is proposed that these will include NHS Lothian and its official charity making a formal apology to people of African descent, commissioning artwork dedicated to victims of slavery and signing an agreement aimed at improving health in modern-day Jamaica.
An advisory group set up by NHS Lothian claimed that the measures would “help to eliminate systemic discrimination and racism in Scotland” and “make amends for past wrongs”.
However, the timing of the announcement and the priority given to the work was questioned, with the Scottish NHS facing an unprecedented crisis that is set to deepen in coming months.
It is expected that the work would be funded from “existing departmental budgets and staffing”, meaning it will swallow up resources that could have been used for healthcare.