Claire goes pink for breast cancer awareness

Last week I showed my support for women with breast cancer by dressing up in pink to encouraging constituents to take part in Breast Cancer Now’s flagship fundraiser, wear it pink, on Friday 23rd October.

Wear it pink, the UK’s biggest pink fundraiser, calls on supporters across the country to ditch the day-to-day colours and pull on some pink to raise money for Breast Cancer Now’s life-saving breast cancer research.

I was delighted to join fellow parliamentarians in wearing it pink in Holyrood to encourage people across Scotland to get involved.

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Support for unpaid carers vital

This week is carers’ week and I have taken the opportunity to back calls for more support for unpaid carers across Mid Scotland and Fife. With an estimated 61,000 unpaid carers throughout the region, with almost half providing over 20 hours of care a week, support is vital.

It is important that the work of unpaid carers does not go unrecognised and unsupported. According to Carers UK, Scotland’s carers save the country £10 billion a year. The least we can do is work to deliver more support for the thousands of unpaid carers across Fife.

Fife is home to over half of Mid Scotland and Fife’s unpaid carers, with Kirkcaldy top of the region with 7,580 unpaid carers ahead of Mid Fife and Glenrothes, which also has over 7,000. Continue reading

Action needed over NHS missed targets

Last week it was announced that the number of patients being treated in Accident and Emergency within the 4 hour waiting time target had dropped to 90.9% in December 2014. This is a significant drop from the 98.5% that was recorded in the same month in 2013 and down from the 95.2% in November 2014.

As I result I have written to the Scottish Government to call for them to take appropriate action to address this fall and ensure that the resources are available to staff to enable them to treat patients within the waiting time target.

Staff within the NHS do a great job under ever increasing pressures and therefore it is vital that they have the right resources available to them to ensure that our patients are being treated to the highest possible standards.

We knew previously that NHS Fife is struggling from bed blocking and increasing locum costs. We now know that they are also struggling to meet their four hour waiting time target. That is why the Scottish Government must take action. Continue reading

Claire calls for action over child homelessness

This week I called for the Scottish Government to ‘wake up’ to the growing housing crisis facing Scotland after Shelter Scotland released figures showing that over 4,000 children in Scotland will be homeless this Christmas

These figures will shock anyone who has read them and must act as a wake up call to the Scottish Government. Nobody wants to see a single child spend Christmas homeless, let alone 4,000, and we all must work together to fix this growing crisis.

According to Shelter Scotland, a shortage of affordable social housing is the root cause of the problem, which is why I have called for the Scottish Government to back Labour’s proposals for a National Housing Action Plan. Continue reading

Claire writes to Health Secretary over NHS Fife funding

This week I have written to the Health Secretary Alex Neil MSP following reports that NHS Fife is on the brink of a staffing shortage. According to the Courier NHS Fife is suffering from a shortage of 40 consultants and finding the hiring of locum staff difficult.

This has contributed to NHS Fife failing to meet its six-week waiting time target with breaches now at their highest ever level and double what they were at the same time last year. At the end of April it was recorded that 1,540 patients out of the 5,765 who were waiting for a diagnostic test have waited for longer than the six week period.

The increase in breaches and the staff shortage highlights deeper problems within the NHS in Fife. It is becoming increasingly clear that due to Government underfunding staff in NHS Fife are being continually stretched beyond their means. Continue reading

Care home inspections vital for good service

Recently I met with the Care Inspectorate in the Scottish Parliament to discuss care issues across the Kingdom. The Inspectorate is the official body responsible for inspecting standards of care in Scotland.

Over 14,000 care services are registered with the Care Inspectorate, including care homes, childminders, day care centres and support services which includes care at home. The inspection regime looks at quality of care and support, staffing and management and leadership.

Recent figures from the Inspectorate have found that across Scotland the number of care homes with unsatisfactory or weak grades has increased. However, services in Fife have improved, with now over 95% achieving grades of adequate or better.

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Fife Neonatal Unit going from strength to strength

Recently I visited Fife’s Neonatal Services for a tour of the facilities at Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy. The service, which relocated to the Victoria Hospital two years ago, looks after over 400 babies a year on average, and which has in that time included 8 sets of triplets.

I was delighted to be invited by the staff, particularly Jeana Arnott, at the Neonatal Service for a tour around their facilities and I want to thank them for the opportunity to see first-hand the department in action.

The work that the staff undertakes is a credit to the NHS in Fife and they should be proud of all that they have achieved as the service continues to go from strength to strength. Since the move to the new department at the Victoria there has been changes which aim to improve the service and these have been positively received by both the staff and patients. Continue reading

New food body can’t be a smokescreen for further cuts

Last year’s horsemeat scandal highlighted the SNP’s cuts to the very services that would ensure high food standards. The number of food safety samples taken dropped from over 16,000 in 2008-09 to 10,236 in 2011-12, Unison found that the number of meat inspectors has dropped by over 50%, from 170 in 2003 to 75 in 2013. There has also been in Scotland an 11% fall in the number of environmental health officers and a 21% drop in the number of specialist food safety officers.

It is therefore vital that the launch of a new food body, included in the Scottish Government’s Food (Scotland) Bill does not just consolidate existing groups or be a smokescreen for further cuts. Continue reading

Claire calls for action to tackle the need for food banks

Yesterday in Parliament I raised the challenges facing food banks across the Kingdom during a Member’s debate. Having attended the launch of the food bank in Kirkcaldy I have seen first hand the demand for these services and the vital role they play in helping those that need it most. 

Recent reports that the food bank in Glenrothes is running low on food as it struggles to keep up with demand highlights how important these services are for the Kingdom. Those that have taken the time to help, from volunteering in the banks or donating food whilst they do their weekly shop, deserve our thanks. Without them the situation throughout Fife would be a lot worse.

My full speech can be found on the Scottish Government website.

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Air quality concerns raised as reports of 1,600 dying each year

This week in Parliament I raised a topical question on the recent air pollution monitoring results for 2013. The report found that more than over 20 streets throughout Scotland breach safety limits regarding air pollution. This follows a report that found that nearly 1,600 people in Scotland die each year due to particle pollution. 

In my questions to the Environment Minister I highlighted both reports and worrying statistics. With air pollution contributing to heart attacks and lung disease it is important that the Scottish Government is committed to tackling air pollution across Scotland. Continue reading