Long Waiting Times Reduced by 20%
According to latest Public Health Scotland statistics, waiting times of more than 2 years have been reduced by 20% for both outpatients and inpatients.
The number of outpatients waiting over 2 years decreased from 2,633 in the quarter to the end of June to 2,114 (20%) for the period 1 July – 30 September, and there was a 22% reduction in the number of patients waiting over two years for inpatient and day case procedures (9,787 to 7,612).
Progress on tackling the long waits continues, with almost 53,500 patients seen in the quarter to the end of September which is the highest number in one quarter since the start of the pandemic.
I was especially pleased to see these figures in my role of Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care, as they show that NHS Boards and their staff are working extremely hard, during challenging times, in order to meet these important targets and support patients. I cannot thank them enough for all that they do.
UK Supreme Court Independence Decision
The UK Supreme Court came to the decision that the Scottish Parliament does not have the power to legislate for a referendum on Scottish Independence.
This decision must be rightly respected, but it once again highlights that Scotland is not part of a voluntary union. The United Kingdom ceases to be a voluntary union when one member needs to gain the permission of another for the right to choose a different future.
If Westminster does not grant permission for a referendum, then it must also outline what the democratic route is for Scotland to have a say on its future.
In the meantime, Nicola Sturgeon has announced that she has asked the National Executive Committee to convene a Special Party Conference in the new year to discuss and agree the detail of a proposed de facto referendum. Local MP Chris Stephens and I are eager to speak and engage with local members ahead of this conference, so we will provide a date for such an event in the near future.
Scottish Budget Impacted by UK Austerity
The UK Government’s disappointing Autumn Statement did not highlight nor tackle the impact of inflating prices or the financial needs of citizen’s and support services.
Due to inflation, the lack of UK Government top-ups for 2022-23, and the limited extent to which Devolved Powers on finance can be exercised, the Scottish budget is now worth £1.7bn less than when it was set last year, resulting in the Scottish Government being compelled to save over £1bn.
The UK Government have failed in their attempts to enhance benefits, and the measures they have introduced will be insufficient in dealing with the high energy cap. Scotland’s 2023-24 budget will be impacted negatively due to these events.
However, the Scottish Government will continue to do all in its powers to support those in need and prevent others from falling below the poverty line. This month, a review of the Deputy First Minister’s budget showcased the plan to provide two times the amount of the Fuel Insecurity Fund and the Scottish Child Bridging Payment, with the latter being increased to £260.
As Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care, I have offered NHS staff a record high pay deal. Following constructive conversations and engagement with NHS unions, I have been able to offer an average pay uplift of 7.5%, which is the best pay offer in the UK, with the UK and Welsh Governments only offering a 4.5% uplift.
You may have noticed that nurses and ambulance drivers will strike this month in England and Wales, I am pleased that due to the credible pay offer we have put on the table they have suspended any possible strike action in Scotland while their members give consideration to the record pay deal on the table.
In the constituency
- This month, I visited the Govan Health Centre. I spoke with the practice managers and staff members about how the practice is running, and ensuring they are open to a range of in-person and online consultations. Their data shows that they are dealing with patients in the same, if not higher, volumes to pre-pandemic levels. It is important we do not overwhelm the already pressed health services with issues that are not relevant to them. Therefore, please consult NHS Inform to determine who is best to support your health condition: https://www.nhsinform.scot/
- I had the pleasure of visiting MS Ambition – a Scottish Government chartered cruise ship which is temporarily housing displaced Ukrainian refugees. The facilities onboard are meeting the needs of our new residents, including Glasgow Life providing exercise classes and training opportunities, Scottish Refugee Council and Refuweegee providing information on rights and support services, money advice services, English lessons and so much more. It is of great importance that we help rehome these refugees as soon as possible. It was great to hear of many of them finding jobs across Scotland and moving themselves, but some will rely on the generosity of others to temporarily house them within their home to help them get on their feet. I raised the issue of many refugees having delays in their biometric cards and have asked Government officials to follow up with the Home Office. I know Chris Stephens MP team are doing great work to support those still waiting for their cards.
- After operating as predominantly a vaccination centre during the pandemic, Pollok Community Centre has now reopening for public use. I can’t wait to go along and see the great groups and organisations operating out of this premise!
- I stopped by to meet the new Area Commander for Glasgow South, Chief Inspector Derrick Johnston, and one of his community sergeants. It was great to make introductions and speak about safety and action in the constituency.
- There are lots of great projects going on in our community this winter to support those most in need. I know this will be an even tougher winter for many of us, with the increased cost of living, fuel and energy. However, if you are in the fortunate position to donate, there are many who would greatly benefit from your generosity. For example, there is the Spirit of Glasgow Secret Santa appeal: https://www.cultivatingmindfulness.org.uk/glasgows-spirit-of-christmas?fbclid=IwAR0_kPw9he1xGkp3UO6Gni1U1g2lQnnlIh9t0oMCONKo0DBITdXO8nSP5HI , and the Govan Community Project Christmas appeal : https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/GCPxmas22?fbclid=IwAR3hqhl3TUduLoSSt6Td5QAC_QE9Yv9h-4eOgY8b-7TZsMoCYqoH0e2Omqo . I will reshare details of appeals on my Facebook page, so keep an eye out online.
- I was welcomed into local social enterprise, 12 Guitars, in Govan. Since April 2019, they have provided guitars, equipment and access to tuition and support, free at the point of use to ensure that guitar playing is accessible to all young people. It was a pleasure to visit and to hear about their projects which support young and vulnerable people, enabling them to access instruments and music lessons. I’m grateful to the volunteers for the tremendous work they do and look forward to supporting them to make connections with funders and other community members.
- I often receive information about new funding opportunities which open to financially support local community groups to continue providing their vital services. We have a distribution list which we use to reach all of the local community organisations to inform them of when a new fund has opened. If you wish to be added to the distribution list, or know of an organisation who should be included, then please email my Constituency Communications Officer on email@example.com .