Busy end to the year for par­lia­ment

Rutherglen Reformer - - News From The Pews - Clare Haughey MSP MSP FOR FOR RUTHER­GLEN

They say a week is a long time in pol­i­tics.

The last week of the 2016/17 sit­ting of the Scottish Par­lia­ment, be­fore it rose for sum­mer re­cess, did not seem that long, but it was cer­tainly very busy.

At the be­gin­ning of the week, I held my first street surgery in Ruther­glen. My team and I went out to visit neigh­bour­hoods in the con­stituency, knock­ing doors and speak­ing to res­i­dents about any is­sues they may have.

The surgery was ad­ver­tised in ad­vance, so I had a fan­tas­tic re­sponse. Hav­ing teamed up with lo­cal coun­cil­lor, Ja­nine Ca­likes, it was par­tic­u­larly pleas­ing that many con­stituents had taken the trou­ble to pre­pare ques­tions on a range of is­sues, both lo­cal and na­tional, in ex­pec­ta­tion of me chap­ping their door.

The pre­vi­ous week, I also held a street surgery at Ruther­glen Ex­change. Going to such a public space as the shop­ping cen­tre again en­cour­aged peo­ple to speak to me who would not oth­er­wise have en­gaged with their MSP, or felt that their is­sues mer­ited sup­port.

In par­lia­ment, I had the op­por­tu­nity to speak in the de­bate on the Char­ter of Rights for peo­ple with de­men­tia. As a reg­is­tered men­tal health nurse, I have first-hand ex­pe­ri­ence of car­ing for peo­ple with de­men­tia, and in the ef­fect this has on their friends and fam­i­lies. De­men­tia is a disease that can af­fect both the rel­a­tively young as well as the el­derly, and it will be­come an in­creas­ing prob­lem for in­di­vid­u­als, fam­i­lies and em­ploy­ers in the years ahead.

The Scottish Gov­ern­ment, work­ing with var­i­ous de­men­tia char­i­ties have pro­duced the third Scottish De­men­tia Strat­egy, which re­sponds to th­ese chal­lenges and fo­cuses on lis­ten­ing to the ex­pe­ri­ences of those with de­men­tia, whilst also work­ing in col­lab­o­ra­tion with their car­ers and third sec­tor or­gan­i­sa­tions to im­prove qual­ity of life for those af­fected.

In the past week there have been sev­eral sig­nif­i­cant Scottish Gov­ern­ment an­nounce­ments, in­clud­ing the in­tro­duc­tion of an or­gan do­na­tion opt-out scheme.

Af­ter con­sul­ta­tion, the Scottish Gov­ern­ment will bring for­ward leg­is­la­tion to cre­ate a “soft optout” scheme that will mean more peo­ple will re­ceive life-sav­ing trans­plants, while also seeking to pro­tect the wishes of those who do not wish their or­gans to be do­nated. The plans were wel­comed by the BMA and the wider health com­mu­nity, so I am very hope­ful about the im­pact this pol­icy will have on the lives of those who need treat­ment, as well as the lives of their loved ones.

Another wel­come an­nounce­ment was the Scottish Gov­ern­ment lift­ing the pay cap for public sec­tor workers in Scot­land.

This breaks with the UK-wide one per cent re­stric­tion to public sec­tor workers’ an­nual pay rises which has been in place far too long. The Scottish Gov­ern­ment an­nounce­ment fol­lows an at­tempt at West­min­ster to lift the cap across the whole of the UK, but this was de­feated in par­lia­ment by the DUP and the Con­ser­va­tives.

One of the high­lights of the Na­tional Health and Social Care Work­force Plan, which was pub­lished on June 28, was the an­nounce­ment that an es­ti­mated 2,600 ex­tra nurs­ing and mid­wifery train­ing places will be cre­ated over the next four years. The work­force plan sets out how the Scottish Gov­ern­ment will work with part­ners to se­cure sus­tain­able NHS staffing along­side its pro­gramme of change in health and social care.

Fur­ther­more, in news that will please many com­muters, trans­port min­is­ter, Humza Yousaf an­nounced that a public sec­tor bid for the ScotRail fran­chise was vi­able and that he was com­mit­ted to cre­at­ing a level play­ing field, which will al­low public sec­tor bids for the rail fran­chise. The min­is­ter is work­ing with Trans­port Scot­land to gather more ev­i­dence around how this can be im­ple­mented, and this move was also wel­comed by trans­port unions.

As a busy week con­cluded, I was priv­i­leged to chair an im­por­tant meet­ing be­tween the Scottish Gov­ern­ment Re­gen­er­a­tion Unit, Scot­land’s Towns Part­ner­ship, Cam­bus­lang Com­mu­nity Coun­cil, and lo­cal elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives, where we looked at op­tions to re­gen­er­ate Cam­bus­lang town cen­tre.

There were a lot of great ideas, and a real will­ing­ness to re­vi­talise the town cen­tre which has, for too long, been ne­glected. I am look­ing for­ward to what can be done to breathe life back into the main street and great credit is due to Cam­bus­lang Com­mu­nity Coun­cil for the work they have done on this issue.

Af­ter a short break I will be spend­ing even more time around the con­stituency dur­ing re­cess.

I will be hold­ing more street surg­eries – along­side my reg­u­lar surg­eries in Ruther­glen, Cam­bus­lang, Half­way, and Blan­tyre – vis­it­ing lo­cal busi­nesses and or­gan­i­sa­tions, and en­sur­ing that I am ac­ces­si­ble to all my con­stituents to sup­port them.

Scottish weather aside, I hope every­one en­joys the sum­mer and I look for­ward to meet­ing with many of you over the next cou­ple of months.

Out and aboutClare Haughey MSP with Coun­cil­lor Ja­nine Ca­likes and case­worker Gerry McGuire dur­ing her street surgery

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