Committees are a vital part of parly
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