Comments by the Outgoing Chairman of BMA Scotland—That the Parliament notes with concern the reported comments by the outgoing chairman of BMA Scotland, Dr Brian Keighley, in his farewell conference speech when he highlighted a crisis of out-of-hours health provision, queues at A&E departments, reports of geriatric provision coming under increasing criticism through inadequate care packages and increasing bed blocking while, it considers, GPs are having to cope with a 20% increase in workload, vital cancer treatments being delayed because of unsustainable costs and problems emerging in terms of hospital food, cleanliness, staff shortages and vacancies in relation to consultants and GP trainees; notes that Dr Keighley went on to say ―what I have seen over the past five years is the continuing crisis management of the longest car crash in my memory, and it is time for our politicians to face up to some very hard questions‖, and welcomes what it sees as Dr Keighley’s rejection of the wholesale NHS reorganisation that has taken place and his call for politicians of all parties to ensure the long-term viability of the NHS.
Highlands & Islands MSP David Stewart who campaigned with the Western Isles campaign group Fair Fuels Solution Group has welcomed the announcement that filling stations in the Western Isles will no longer have to buy fuels exclusively from one company.
David Stewart : Further to the minister’s intervention on Mark Griffin, does Alex Fergusson share my interest in having an armed forces scheme in the Scottish Parliament, and does he share my support for looking at the idea on a cross-party basis?
I participated in the scheme in the House of Commons and it was excellent.
Food Poverty in the UK
That the Parliament welcomes the recent report, Below the Breadline: The Relentless Rise of Food Poverty in Britain, published by Oxfam, The Trussell Trust and Church Action on Poverty; notes with concern the estimate that half a million people in the UK are now reliant on food aid; further notes the reported 54% increase in the number of meals provided by foodbanks between 2012-13 and 2013-14; understands that lone parents, 89% of them women, are twice as likely as couple families to live in poverty and are therefore vulnerable to food poverty; believes that insecure work, low wages, rising living costs and what it sees as the dramatic and punitive changes to the benefit system are contributing to rising food poverty; believes that food poverty is a stark indicator of inequality in a wealthy country, and calls on the UK Government to change its sanctions regime, commit to raising the minimum wage to the level of the living wage and tackle zero-hours contracts.
HMRC Staff Defending their Jobs and Public Services and Resisting Privatisation—That the Parliament understands that members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union who work for HMRC in Scotland are taking strike action on 23 June 2014 in defence of public services and their jobs and to resist privatisation; recognises what it sees as the pressure that HMRC workers are increasingly under to mask job cuts; believes that HMRC has attempted to divide its workers by implementing a system that seeks to penalise 10% of staff every year under its performance management system; notes HMRC’s announcement to close 23 offices across the UK, which it believes is part of an ill-conceived plan to lose 22,000 jobs over the next few years, including at offices in Irvine and Glenrothes; considers it disgraceful the decision to close all 281 of the UK’s tax enquiry centres, many of which are in Scotland; believes that this will force pensioners and people most in need to have to contact understaffed contact centres or use the internet in order to get help, which could lead to frustration and anger and compromise the health and safety of workers; commends the PCS on what it sees as its constructive attempts to negotiate a solution; believes that its members’ employer, the UK Government, should seek meaningful talks and take action to reverse the cuts, centralisation and privatisation in order to ensure proper staffing levels, and considers that, in the absence of negotiations, staff will be left with little option but to take industrial action.
Highlands & Islands (Labour) MSP and Road Safety Campaigner, David Stewart was invited to and attended the FIA Foundation Road Safety Scholarship Programme in London last Friday, when he met not only the organisers, but scholars from countries such as Italy, South Africa, Poland, Argentina, Portugal, China, Maldova, Lebanon and Uruguay, to brief them in relation to his road safety work in the Highlands & Islands of Scotland and in particular in relation to his Sensible Driving – Always Arriving campaign