Com­mit­tees are a vi­tal part of parly

Rutherglen Reformer - - News From The Pews -

While the most vis­i­ble part of the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment’s work is in the de­bat­ing cham­ber at events like first min­is­ter’s ques­tions, some of the most im­por­tant work goes on at com­mit­tees.

Th­ese cross party com­mit­tees help to scru­ti­nise the work of the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment, set their own agenda for in­quiries and pro­duce re­ports and rec­om­men­da­tions based on the ev­i­dence they re­ceive.

Since join­ing par­lia­ment last May I have been priv­i­leged to be the deputy con­venor of the health and sports com­mit­tee, which has al­most com­pleted its first year of work look­ing at some of the is­sues which are im­por­tant to en­sure that our health­care sys­tem con­tin­ues to de­liver for the peo­ple of Scot­land.

To as­sist us in our work the com­mit­tee has a strate­gic plan with a com­mon aim to re­duce health in­equal­i­ties. All our ac­tions and ac­tiv­i­ties are geared to im­prov­ing the health of the peo­ple of Scot­land.

We are the first Scot­tish Par­lia­ment com­mit­tee to have a strate­gic plan which also com­mits us to be in­clu­sive of all sec­tions of so­ci­ety when un­der­tak­ing our work, to be ac­ces­si­ble and to seek out the views of ser­vice users.

The com­mit­tee has car­ried out a series of short in­quiries, 13 in all, which will help to in­form our scru­tiny of some forth­com­ing re­forms in health, sport and so­cial care.

One of the in­quiries looked into the causes of de­layed hos­pi­tal dis­charges and another looked at the re­silience of our so­cial and com­mu­nity care work­force.

Other in­quiries have looked at re­cruit­ment and re­ten­tion chal­lenges in the NHS, child and adult men­tal health and health­care in pris­ons.

Fol­low­ing a num­ber of former foot­ball play­ers speak­ing pub­licly about al­le­ga­tions of his­toric child sex­ual abuse, the com­mit­tee con­ducted a short in­quiry into child pro­tec­tion in sport.

We were seek­ing re­as­sur­ance that cur­rent safe­guards in foot­ball and other sports are suf­fi­cient to keep chil­dren safe.

We rec­om­mended changes to the pro­tect­ing vul­ner­a­ble groups scheme, as it ap­plies to sport­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions. This in­quiry drew a lot of me­dia at­ten­tion both lo­cally and na­tion­ally.

Dur­ing this first year of the new par­lia­men­tary ses­sion the com­mit­tee has also con­sid­ered 23 Scot­tish statu­tory in­stru­ments, which are pieces of what is called sec­ondary leg­is­la­tion, which make changes to ex­ist­ing law, in our case mainly in the ar­eas of health and so­cial care.

The com­mit­tee has also con­sid­ered five pe­ti­tions which were re­ferred to us. Th­ese in­cluded pe­ti­tions on men­tal health ser­vices in Scot­land, whistle­blow­ing in the NHS and a pe­ti­tion for a con­sul­ta­tion on ser­vice de­liv­ery for the el­derly and vul­ner­a­ble.

A ma­jor fo­cus of the pre­ven­ta­tive health agenda of the com­mit­tee is to en­cour­age par­tic­i­pa­tion in sport and phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity.

As part of this work we un­der­took sev­eral site vis­its to com­mu­nity sport­ing hubs across the coun­try where we met lo­cal sport­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions and club mem­bers.

We also ex­plored bar­ri­ers to par­tic­i­pat­ing in sport by speak­ing with peo­ple who do not cur­rently par­tic­i­pate in sport or phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity, to try and un­der­stand how we can en­cour­age our fel­low cit­i­zens to be­come more ac­tive and health­ier.

The com­mit­tee’s work pro­gramme for the next few months will soon be avail­able on­line.

All our in­quiries in­volve a call for ev­i­dence. Whether it is a health or a sport­ing is­sue why not have your say?

Th­ese cross party com­mit­tees help scru­ti­nise the work of the gov­ern­ment

Cham­ber De­bates like first min­is­ter’s ques­tions get much at­ten­tion, but com­mit­tees which scru­ti­nise work are vi­tal

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