MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife Claire Baker has called on the Scottish Government to act to alleviate pressures on NHS Fife services ahead of the onset of winter.
Earlier this month NHS Fife postponed all non-urgent surgery and some outpatient appointments, saying it was facing pressure “unlike anything we have experienced during our response to the pandemic”. This week they have referred to “significant ongoing challenges” and are looking at other services which can be stepped back to ensure safe staffing is in place.
During Portfolio Questions to the Health Secretary, Claire Baker highlighted the pressures facing the NHS in Fife and urged the Scottish Government to do more to ensure patients are not faced with further delays or reductions in services over the winter. She called for assurances that the situation in Fife will not deteriorate further, and for additional support to be provided to health boards.
MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife Claire Baker said:
“NHS Fife has postponed all non-urgent surgery and some outpatient appointments already but is looking at further reducing services in order to cope. A&E performance in Fife is its lowest on record and among the worst in Scotland. Frontline staff are doing all they can but hospitals are already seeing more people turn up, for both covid and non-covid related conditions, than they would at the height of winter.
“Many patients having their surgery or appointments postponed have already been waiting a long time to be treated, and are understandably anxious about any further delay. What they need is reassurance that additional support for our NHS will be provided to ensure this situation isn’t just going to get worse through the winter.
“With the medical backlog caused by the pandemic ever increasing, we cannot see further delays to patient care. The Scottish Government needs to step up and address this urgently, and support our NHS staff to continue delivering across all areas of healthcare.”
The final proposal for my proposed Culpable Homicide (Scotland) Bill was lodged this week, following a meeting with trade union representatives and Scottish Hazards.
Following a consultation on the proposed Bill earlier this year, with the overwhelming majority of respondents in favour, I am now seeking support from fellow MSPs to introduce the Bill to Parliament.
The proposal would amend the law of culpable homicide to ensure that where loss of life is caused by the recklessness or gross negligence of individuals, companies or organisations, conviction reflecting the appropriate seriousness and moral opprobrium can take place.
It is simply unacceptable to have workers dying as a result of negligence or recklessness by employers and this has to change.
The law of culpable homicide needs to apply equally and provide a clear set of rules defining when individuals or organisations commit this offence. My proposal seeks to do that and to ensure involuntary deaths can be investigated under the same law regardless of where they happen.
I am urging MSPs across the Parliament to support this Bill so the prospects for bereaved families achieving justice can be improved.
Following the decision not to retain Out of Hours services in Glenrothes, I have called on NHS Fife to ensure all residents continue to be supported in accessing available services in the region. It is extremely disappointing that Glenrothes will not have an Out of Hours service within the town and I understand people’s anger at this decision. Assurances must be provided to Glenrothes residents on the provision of free taxis as soon as possible to ensure those without transport can access services elsewhere in Fife.
I do welcome the news that overnight services will be provided in Dunfermline and Kirkcaldy, and that new arrangements will be in place in St Andrews. Fife residents have undergone months of uncertainty and it has taken far too long to reach this decision. The NHS board must act quickly to put the new arrangements in place and raise awareness of the changes. What we cannot see is any further delay or confusion.
At the core of these changes is a shortage of GPs and the knock-on effects are being felt across NHS services. Urgent action needs to be taken by the Scottish Government to increase GP numbers so services across Fife and Scotland can improve.
This week marks British Lung Foundation’s #LoveYourLungs Week, with the focus on encouraging people to take an online breath test as part of looking after their lung health.
While feeling short of breath from time to time is healthy and normal, sometimes it can be a sign of something more serious. Taking the online breath test can help you find out if you should get it checked out.
Visit breathtest.blf.org.uk to take the 5 minute test.
This week I got the chance to meet people living with chest conditions like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) at the Scottish Parliament’s gym, where I got a “Pulmonary Rehab experience” with the help of Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland.
Rehab is proven to keep people well and help them stay out of hospital, but thousands of people struggle to access rehab programmes or have long waits to get on one. Figures for Fife indicate that of the 4,837 people with COPD who would benefit from Pulmonary rehabilitation only 501 (11%) are being referred.
Claire with Morag Allison, Hazel Crombie, Mostyn Tuckwell and Linda Gray in the Scottish Parliament gym
Pulmonary rehabilitation is life-changing for people with lung conditions like COPD. Everyone who needs it deserves access to this.Pulmonary rehabilitation prolongs lives and saves the NHS money by reducing hospital admissions – it is precisely the kind of service we should be offering more of.
I am fully behind Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland’s campaign to make pulmonary rehab available to all who need it. There should be a universal and equal right to pulmonary rehab across the country.
I was delighted to receive my accreditation as a Carer Positive employer ahead of Carers Week (10-16 June), the annual awareness campaign to support Scotland’s 759,000 carers and 29,000 young carers.
The Carer Positive scheme recognises employers who offer support and flexibility to carers.
Claire receiving her Carer Positive accreditation from Sue McLintock of Carer Positive
The vital work of unpaid carers must be recognised and supported and employers have a responsibility to develop workplace policies and working practices which do this. I’m encouraging all employers to engage with Carer Positive on steps they can take to provide a supportive workplace for carers.
I also visited a Young Carers Group afternoon tea event in Lochgelly, just one of the hundreds of events taking place across Scotland as part of Carers Week. A parliamentary reception will celebrate 25 years of Carers Week and five years of the Carer Positive Award.
Most of us will care for someone, or be cared for, at some stage in our lives so it’s important for everyone to speak more openly about caring and for all of us to help support our carers practically and emotionally.
Claire with Kirstie Howell and Charlie Bowie from the Young Carers Focus Group in Lochgelly
This week Scottish Labour led a debate in Parliament on the BiFab construction yards. Ahead of the debate I met with representatives of Fife – Ready for Renewal and gave my support to their campaign, which calls for work to be delivered to the yards in Methil and Burntisland.
The debate highlighted the location of EDF’s planned Neart Na Gaoithe (NnG) Offshore Wind Farm off the Fife coast, calling for related contracts for turbine jackets to be awarded to BiFab rather than to overseas firms.
The idea that EDF will award the contracts for wind-turbine jackets for the NnG Offshore Wind Farm, sitting off the coast of Fife, to Indonesia to then be shipped over seven thousand miles to Scotland is just not acceptable.
I am urging EDF to do the right thing, to honour commitments they have given to local investment, to support the Scottish industry. In return they will receive a highly skilled, committed workforce.
I recently sponsored a Christian Aid event in the Scottish Parliament in advance of Christian Aid Week, which ran from the 12th to the 18th May 2019.
The event highlighted Christian Aid’s work on tackling extreme poverty, climate change, maternal health, and tax justice. The week brings together partners and supporters to raise funds to support its global effort to fight poverty and find practical ways to highlight issues around it.
This year the annual fundraising effort was very successful, raising over £8 million. Next year, there will be an opportunity for everyone in the Mid Scotland and Fife Region to get involved, attend organised events or make a financial contribution and I would encourage anyone who is interested to go to the website at www.christianaid.org.uk where you can find a wealth of information and resources.