Happy New Year everyone and I hope 2023 is a happy, healthy, successful year for all.
Gender Recognition Reform Bill Passed and Blocked
History was made in the Scottish Parliament just before the festive break when a majority of elected MSPs voted in favour of the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill.
The legislation improves the system by which transgender people can apply for legal recognition through a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC). This will see trans people aged 16 and older who apply for a GRC having to make a legally binding declaration that they are already living in their acquired gender and intend to do so permanently. It will be a criminal offence for applicants to make a false application.
Shamefully, following Scotland’s passing of the Bill, the UK Government made an order under section 35 of the Scotland Act to block the Bill from proceeding to Royal Assent. This procedure has never been used in nearly 25 years of devolution and is contrary to a Bill that was overwhelmingly passed by the Scottish Parliament from members of all parties.
The UK Government had multiple opportunities to raise concerns and comment during the extensive consultation process, but it denied doing so. The Scottish Government will take whatever steps necessary to ensure that the UK Government do not ride roughshod over the democratic will of the Scottish Parliament.
Regardless of your views on the Bill, and I acknowledge there are many differing views, we should all unite in opposition to a Westminster Government vetoing legislation passed by a majority in the Scottish Parliament, what a dangerous precedent this sets.
Cabinet Secretary Shona Robison has written a compelling piece for the Guardian about this issue and you can view that article here: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/jan/19/westminster-trans-people-scotland-gender-recognition-reform-bill
Action to Cut Delayed Discharge
Patients who no longer need to be in hospital are to be reassessed as soon as possible to get them the right care in the right place at the right time.
Before the end of the month, each Health Board area will identify patients who are clinically safe to be discharged without further delay and can safely move home or to another setting, such as an interim placement in a care home.
Being in hospital for longer than needed is not in the best interest of the individual, particularly for older patients, reducing their ability to look after themselves and return home.
The approach is based on good practice already adopted by several health boards. This is the latest step in efforts to free up capacity in hospitals and help get the NHS through the toughest winter in its history. It builds on the Scottish Governments £8 million commitment to provide an extra 300 interim care home beds to get patients discharged quicker.
Although our A&E departments are under continued pressure, we are seeing signs of improvement thanks to our dedicated NHS staff. Latest statistics show our best performance since May, and an over 50% decrease in both 12 and 8 hour waits in comparison to the Winter peak.
Record Medical Training Posts Filled
As Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care, I was delighted to announce that more medical training posts have been filled in 2022 than at any other year since records began in 2013.
The results of this year’s recruitment process continue to show that Scotland is a highly desirable place to live, train and work as a trainee doctor.
Building on high staffing levels is absolutely vital to the recovery of our NHS and I’d like to thank each and every doctor in training who has opted to pursue their career in Scotland. All NHS Scotland staff work tirelessly to meet the healthcare needs of our country.
I know that there is always room for improvement, so I will continue to work with NHS Education for Scotland to support our trainees as much as we possibly can to ensure the sustainability of our workforce.
In the constituency
- It was great to visit Threehills Community Supermarket – the first of its kind in Scotland and it is based in the constituency in Nitshill. When it opens, Threehills will act as a hub for the community, providing an affordable supermarket, café and community resource facilities for all. There will be great job and training opportunities too including forklifting, serving customers, and liaising with the community. I look forwards to the grand opening hopefully this Summer.
- The Scottish Government has informed the Scottish Parliament that the contract for the M/S Ambition, docked in King George V docks in Shieldhall, will end on 31st March 2023. The ship was originally contracted on a short-term basis to provide safe and comfortable temporary accommodation for Ukrainian Refugees. Since arriving on the ship, refugees on board have been provided with support to find alternative accommodation. Working closely with Glasgow City Council and other authorities, the Scottish Government will ensure that sustainable long-term accommodation options are prioritised for those on-board.
- This month I met with representatives of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, on behalf of constituents, to discuss BSL interpretation services across the health board. NHSGGC colleagues noted the value of service-user feedback and were able to identify some areas for improvement. Overall, a constructive meeting for all those involved.