• February 10, 2016


I was interested to hear the Health Minister, Howard Quayle MHK, on the Mannin Line today discussing health service provision on the Isle of Man and his emphasis on a couple of occasions to the benefits of having treatments carried out on the Isle of Man.

Obviously there are practical savings as a treatment undertaken in say Manchester, Liverpool or some other UK centre is not provided gratis it is paid for in full. Then of course there are transport costs and other expenses. However the great advantage to on island treatment is the lack of disruption, distress and inconvenience to a patient at a time when if critically ill they are at their lowest ebb.

One of the issues often cited when independence is mooted is that the Island’s health care may suffer a detriment.

It was therefore something of a surprise as I was surveying a range of countries with populations below 100,000 and some only half our size to find that one of the last Commonwealth States to achieve independence Antigua and Barbuda has a centre providing cancer care services such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy to not just its own citizens but those from other nearby Island States like St Kitts and Nevis (also independent). The service was established so that patients did not have to go to the United States or United Kingdom.

My initial reaction was that the two Island State must be pretty well of as in over 60 years of National Health service provision on the Isle of Man we have never managed to get such a facility in place and many cancer treatments invariably are carried out in Liverpool or on the Wirral.

However I soon discovered that although the economy of Antigua and Barduda is expanding it is not yet in terms of GDP at our level. Its population is about the same (90,000) as the current Manx population.

It also has had to weather some storms since independence with a decline in a major plank of its economy tourism. But like Mann its financial services industry has expanded and recently a new American University was established which with 1000 students seem set to be a market for employment, goods and services.

It maintains a Defence force of 250 personnel which has responsibility for several different roles: internal security, prevention of drug smuggling, the protection and support of fishing rights, prevention of marine pollution, search and rescue, ceremonial duties, assistance to government programs, provision of relief during natural disasters, assistance in the maintenance of essential services, and support of the police in maintaining law and order.

The country seems to have been stable and coped with any problems since independence and as indicated above its economy is expanding.

Antigua and Barbuda started from a much more inhospitable position than any future independent Manx state would start and yet had the confidence to take control of its own affairs. They kept the English Queen as head of State but other than that their relationship with the UK is (as they say) ‘toast’. They are a member of the UN, WTO, OAS, ICC and Caribbean regional groupings.

Its quite shameful really that the Isle of Man like a baby continues to cling on to ‘nannies hand’ i.e. the link with the UK while other States much smaller and initially with much greater problems have the courage to take control of their own destiny.

Of those States with under 100,000 people I surveyed some face real difficulties whilst others are in better shape than we are following their decision to pursue independence. None of them have indicated a desire to go back to being ‘second class citizens’.

Photo: Mt St John Hospital Antigua

Issued by: The Celtic News



The Celtic League established in 1961 has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It promotes cooperation between the countries and campaigns on a range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, military activity and socio-economic issues


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