A Week in Parliament

Firstly Happy New Year to all. I was glad to get a break over the festive period before ramping things up in the days after Ne’erday. I also extend gratitude and sympathy to all those who didn’t get a holiday – the emergency service workers, NHS workers, those in the hospitality trade run off their feet. Hopefully you all managed decent downtime at some point.

New Year resumes with political parties trying to generate headlines. The actual stories are often weak and need further analysis though.  

Ambulance Call Outs

Some ambulance call outs are undertaken by a single staff member. There are protocols surrounding this and over a four year period, this accounted for 1.5% of call outs, in line with the “only in exceptional circumstances” guidelines. However, the running headline based on a Tory press release was that there were 10,000 such call outs. While the total is correct, reporting that way is aimed at engendering alarm. I understand why the Tories requested the information and it is a legitimate exercise to challenge the Government if there are failings. However, to spin a problem that doesn’t exist is not right – it is not fair on staff or the general public.

The reporting of this resulted in a constituent going public on social media about the excellent response he had received when doing a call out for his late wife. She unfortunately was not able to be saved but he had nothing but good words to say about the service he received and that ultimately there were five people in attendance. That he felt he had to resort to public sharing though does highlight the fact that we as politicians need to be careful how we put data in the public domain.

Scottish NHS

While doctors in England are complaining of their hospitals resembling third world conditions then it could be seen that once again the Scottish NHS is the best performing in the UK. That is not to say there are not pressures in the Scottish NHS. Despite the record levels of funding there are clearly still financial constraints and pressures due to the Westminster austerity agenda as well as Brexit impact on staffing. However, the hard working NHS staff in Scotland have performed admirably, despite higher patient numbers and the facts speak for themselves.

Ayrshire Growth Deal / Government Correspondence

A full two months after writing to the Chancellor, I got a rejection letter from the Chancellor regards a request to include the Ayrshire Growth Deal in the Autumn Budget. I am still awaiting a ministerial response from Michael Gove for a letter sent on 9th October, and one from Claire Perry sent on 7th November on separate matters. I am following up on this unacceptable response time and it beggars belief there is not even a system of initial acknowledgement. By contrast, my letter to a Scottish Government Minister had a 3 week turnaround including the holiday period. And yet we are supposed to believe the UK Government has not been completely consumed by Brexit!

These thoughts were first published in the Kilmarnock Standard