The SNP has written to Labour's Shadow Health Minister at Holyrood, Neil Findlay, urging for clarity on his party's threat to Scotland's NHS after Labour's UK health spokesperson said he wanted "health policies that can be consistent across England, Scotland and Wales".
Speaking to Holyrood Magazine, Andy Burnham, shadow Secretary of State for health, said:
“That is why I am talking quite passionately about getting English Labour MPs back up the road and for me, sitting down with Neil [Findlay] and Richard [Simpson] and Rhoda [Grant] and others and saying, let’s get health policies that can be consistent across England, Scotland and Wales. Wouldn't that be a good thing, pulling in the same direction as opposed to pulling our separate ways?"
SNP MSP Aileen McLeod, who sits on the Scottish Parliament's Health and Sport Committee, has written to Neil Findlay, asking if he agrees with the idea of a UK-wide NHS policy.
Commenting, Ms McLeod said:
"Our precious health service appears to be under a very real threat from Labour at Westminster.
"If there was a UK-wide NHS policy, how would Scotland be able to protect itself from Tory privatisation - or "American-style health care", to quote Andy Burnham from last week.
"That is why I have written to Neil Findlay seeking urgent clarification on what Labour in Scotland's position is on this - what have they discussed and agreed to?
"If Scotland's NHS were put under a UK umbrella it would be under threat from future Westminster governments privatising it, just like is happening now to the NHS in England.
"Scotland's NHS is a far stronger public service when compared to the fragmentation of the NHS south of the border - and that is precisely because it is under the control of the Scottish Parliament, not Westminster.
"Our fantastic health service - which proves that decisions for Scotland are best made in Scotland - makes the case for a YES vote and independence, not for Westminster control of Scottish affairs."
MSP for Midlothian North & Musselburgh, Colin Beattie, has called on NHS Lothian to implement Prostate Cancer UK’s Quality Checklist as a first step towards delivering the best possible care and support for men with the disease.
Prostate Cancer UK has produced the Quality Checklist to be used as a best practice guide for men and clinicians in a bid to drive up standards and deliver more uniform levels of care and support. The Checklist sets out 15 standards for care and support that men with prostate cancer should expect and demand on the NHS, from their point of diagnosis onwards.
The document has been endorsed by the Royal College of Nursing, the Royal College of General Practitioners, the British Association of Urological Nurses, the British Uro-oncology Group and the Society and College of Radiographers. Prostate Cancer UK, and a cross party alliance of MSPs, are calling on all Scottish health boards to back the document and ensure it is distributed to all men who are diagnosed with the disease.
Colin Beattie MSP said: “Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men and is predicted to be the most common cancer overall by 2030. Despite this, we know that the quality of care and support men with the disease receive varies significantly throughout Scotland. It is incredibly important that we do all we can to ensure all men with prostate cancer get the care and support they need, regardless of where they live. That’s why I’m delighted to back Prostate Cancer UK’s Quality Checklist, and call on NHS Lothian to implement it as soon as possible to help all men who are diagnosed with this terrible disease.”
Drew Lindon, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Prostate Cancer UK, said: “There is growing evidence of gaps and variation in prostate cancer care and support in Scotland. It is vital that every man with prostate cancer has access to the world-class information, care and support he needs and deserves if we are to help deliver a better quality of life in the future.
"We are delighted that Colin has joined a growing movement showing support for men with prostate cancer by endorsing our Quality Checklist. I urgently call on cancer networks, health boards and health care professionals to follow their lead. Men with prostate cancer deserve the best, and Prostate Cancer UK is absolutely determined that’s exactly what they are going to get.”
Prostate Cancer UK is working closely with men and their families, healthcare providers, politicians and health care professionals to ensure that the Checklist is adopted and implemented throughout Scotland. To view the Quality Checklist please visit: www.prostatecanceruk.org/qualitycare
A YES vote a year today will mean Scotland’s future will always be in Scotland’s hands – that was the resounding message in the Scottish Parliament today.
In a debate on Scotland’s Future, SNP MSPs described why voting Yes is the best option for Scotland, including:
SNP MSP George Adam, who spoke during the debate, said:
“This is a very exciting point in the debate, marking a year to go before the people of Scotland are given the biggest opportunity we have ever had.
“A Yes vote will allow the people of Scotland to build a more prosperous and fairer country, with the Governments we always choose and a society that reflects their values, their aspirations and their principles of economic and social justice.
“The choice is clear – Scotland can have good government with independence where policies reflect the wishes of the people of Scotland, or government from Westminster which gives us policies we reject.
“It means having the best of both worlds with an independent parliament and a relationship of equality with our friends and neighbours in the rest of the UK and these islands.
“It means Scotland will make the decisions on tax, welfare and economic policy – tools that will allow us to create a fairer and more prosperous country.
“More and more people are moving towards a Yes vote as evidence reveals the gains for people, families and communities when decisions are taken in Scotland.
“I believe people will grasp this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and give ourselves the powers to build a better country, a more prosperous country and a fairer country.”
The Scottish National Party said that No campaign chairman Alistair Darling’s interview in the Herald today – in which he says that "I am speaking for Scotland”, and that "Cameron, for this argument, is neither here nor there" – exposes the “confused and hypocritical nature” of the No campaign.
SNP MSP Annabelle Ewing said that Mr Darling had put himself in the position of being a “human shield” for the Tories in Scotland.
Commenting, Ms Ewing said:
“Alistair Darling is the Tories’ human shield in Scotland. The Yes campaign should be grateful to Mr Darling, because he has just blown the gaff on the confused and hypocritical nature of the No campaign.
“If the No campaign agree with us that David Cameron doesn’t speak for Scotland, why do they think he should be our Prime Minister – with just one Tory MP in Scotland – imposing policies like the Bedroom Tax that 90 per cent of Scottish MPs voted against?
“And if David Cameron is ‘neither here nor there’ in a referendum debate that is for Scotland, why is the anti-independence campaign being led from Westminster and Whitehall, driven by the 13 reports published by UK Government ministers?
“Scotland has got what it takes to be an independent country, and decisions about Scotland are best taken by the people who live and work here, not by Westminster.
“These are the compelling arguments for a YES vote next September, and in trying to combat them – for example, by seeking to airbrush David Cameron from a TV debate – the No campaign are tying themselves in knots.”
I would like to urge constituents to take part in the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning. I know that a considerable number of you have personal experience of the problems a cancer diagnosis can bring to both patients and their family, and I know that Macmillan has been there to support many of those in need.
This Coffee Morning will be a fun and easy way to raise money to help Macmillan be there for people with cancer and their families when they need them most. You can find details about the event a below.
Commenting on the announcement that the Westminster government has confirmed the sale of shares in Royal Mail, Mike Weir SNP MP said:
"This is a deeply flawed Westminster decision, which threatens to have particularly harmful consequences for Scotland where so many of our rural communities and so much of our rural economy rely on our existing Royal Mail service. The UK Government are refusing to heed the real and genuine concerns that privatisation will mean a reduction in rural services as companies cherry-pick and compete in the larger urban areas."
"Given our experience of previous privatisations no one believes that the regulator will provide real protection to consumers on either prices or services.
"The Scottish Government has invested heavily in a scheme to bring fibre optic broadband to 95% of the population by 2017. That gives a real opportunity to grow rural businesses, but it requires an efficient, comprehensive and reasonably priced mail service to back it up. A privatised service will not deliver that for rural Scotland.
"Royal Mail must be viewed as part of our national infrastructure not just as another business."
The UK Government’s iniquitous Bedroom Tax has been further discredited following a top QC’s ruling that dimensions do matter when it comes to defining a bedroom.
Around 75,000 people in Scotland – many of them disabled and suffering from terminal illnesses including Motor Neurone Disease - have had their housing benefit cut after being told they have more bedrooms than they need.
The ruling, reported in The Courier today, has been welcomed by the SNP who have reiterated that the way to rid Scotland of the UK Government’s Tory Bedroom Tax is with a YES vote next year.
Depute Leader of the SNP Nicola Sturgeon said:
“This ruling could be of huge significance, and underlines the already existing concerns that the Bedroom Tax is in breach of human rights.
“SNP councils are refusing to evict families and individuals hit by the Bedroom Tax doing their best to pay, and Fife and Fife Council now ought to follow the SNP’s lead.
“The UK Government should abandon the Bedroom Tax which is becoming an unworkable as well as iniquitous shambles – just like the Poll Tax before it.
“But both the Tories show no sign of budging and Labour are all over the place on this rotten policy which hits the most vulnerable in society. Only a Yes vote will abolish it.
In a week that saw UK Government Ministers admit to the existence of the No campaign’s Project Fear, the Treasury’s latest claims have continued to unravel under scrutiny.
It has emerged that the value the Treasury paper places on remaining oil is based on just 10 billion barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) being produced in the UK continental shelf, despite the UK Governments own documents and the industry itself consistently predicting that up to 24 billion (BOE) remains to be recovered.
The Treasury paper also assumes that all production will cease in by 2028, despite the fact that other UK Government papers anticipate operations continuing “to well beyond 2050”. David Cameron himself has previously stated that “there are many, many years left of this great resource”.
The SNP also revealed earlier this week that claims in the Treasury paper that the Scottish Government had ignored the difference in price between oil & gas were completely false, while the Treasury’s own paper made clear that the methodology behind their claims on the effect of a border on trade “is likely to overestimate the effect of the creation of a border between Scotland and the rest of the UK especially in the short term”.
Commenting, SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson who convenes the Finance Committee said:
“Not for the first time the Westminster Government’s anti-independence papers have failed to stand up to scrutiny.
“Having failed to learn their lesson with their ludicrous mobile phone roaming charges paper, George Osborne now expects people in Scotland to simply ignore what the oil & gas sector and indeed the UK Government itself has previously said on future production.
“Despite billions of pounds currently being invested in exploration and improving production in the oil & gas sector, the Treasury are trying to say it will have no effect whatsoever.
“That just isn’t credible and is just the latest example of Westminster trying to treat people in Scotland like fools.
“Despite Vince Cable trying to distance himself from it earlier this week, it is clear to see Project Fear is in full flow in Westminster.
“People in Scotland deserve far better than the frankly embarrassing scare stories that the No campaign keeps churning out.”
The Marie Curie Walk Ten event took place on Saturday in Dalkeith Country Park. More than 1000 supporters, family and friends took part in a 10 km walk to raise funds for a very good cause! I was delighted to be there and to speak to the participants before they set off.
Marie Curie Cancer Care is one of the Scotland’s leading charities. It provides free, high quality nursing care to people with terminal illnesses. It's services provide those individuals with the oportunity to die at home, supported by their families and friends.
Mayfield and Easthouses Development Trust fun day!
The Mayfield and Easthouses development trust recently held their local fun day! It was a bit windy, but everyone was enjoying themselves. I was particularly delighted to hand out the gardening prizes. From the photos, the standard of gardening was high and it was good to see so many quality entrants. I wasn't sure sure about the petting zoo having a tarantula and a scorpion to pet, though! I decided to leave that to braver young folks