To read my contribution please click here
To read my contribution please click here
Good to see that 24 hour nursing cover is to return to Raasay – something I’ve been campaigning for since 2016.
The islanders put up an excellent case for having this cover reinstated but for a long time NHS Highland appeared not to be listening.
Hats off to the campaigners. You put up a great fight and were not willing to give up.
* Photo take with campaigners when I first became involved.
Rhoda Grant MSP and David Stewart MSP (Highlands & Islands) are looking for an enthusiastic and highly organised individual to join their team as an Office Manager based in Inverness.
This is a full-time position based in Inverness with some travel required.
Hours: 35 per week
Salary: £32,000 – £34,000
To read the job description and to apply please click here
Labour MSP Rhoda Grant has raised questions in Holyrood about Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Natural Retreats over the operation of Cairngorm Mountain.
Mrs Grant raised a Topical Question today (Tuesday) asking the Scottish Government what action it was taking regarding its dealings with HIE and the company, in the light of a special investigation by the BBC.
She also pushed for the community to take over the running of the mountain to save the local economy.
“Cairngorm Mountain is crucial to the economy of Badenoch and Strathspey,” Mrs Grant, who represents the Highlands and Islands, told MSPs.
“The community there have been expressing concerns for some time about the management of the Mountain by Natural Retreats and the flow of money in and out of the Cairngorm.
“As this is a complicated web involving a public body and its interaction with private companies, can the Cabinet Secretary tell me what financial checks were made of both Natural Retreats and Natural Assets Investments Ltd before they gained the management contact and while it was running?
She went on the ask Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing :
“Were Cairngorm Mountain Ltd in breach of contract when they went into receivership? If so could HIE have cancelled the contract rather than have to pay the receiver to take it back into ownership?
“Given the community’s desire to own this asset, will the Scottish Government now look a transferring it to them, while ensuring that all monies owing to HIE and the Government are recouped from Natural Retreats?”
Mrs Grant’s questions came against a background of a number of constituents and organisations who were concerned about the running of Cairngorm, especially in the light of Natural Retreats going into administration in November last year, weeks after the funicular was closed due to safety fears.
“However, questions were being asked about the private company and its apparent lack of investment long before it went into administration,” said Mrs Grant following her question in Parliament.
“The complexity of the financial situation made it very difficult to discover exactly what was happening with the flow or money.
“This is not only a question about what happened to get the mountain into this state, but what happens now and what investment can be given to the community which has plans to improve the hill for the future.
“Cairngorm is crucial for the economy of this jewel in the crown of the Highlands and crucial for all those who live and work there.”
In his reply Mr Ewing told Mrs Grant that he had asked HIE for a full account of the situation and will be meeting with them.
He agreed that Cairngorm was extremely important for Badenoch and Strathspey but also for the whole of the Scottish sports industry and he was “well aware” of questions being asked by the media and others in the community.
On the issue of any breach of contract and if public money could be paid back, Mr Ewing said these were “perfectly reasonable questions”, but stressed these were legal questions and it would be imprudent to answer off the cuff.
He said the questions were matters of concern to the public and of considerable public interest.
Note to editors:
The Topical question:
Highlands & Islands Regional MSP Rhoda Grant has ascertained by means of an FOI that the MV Loch Seaforth, which sails between Stornoway and Ullapool, has had to cancel 68 sailings due to adverse weather between July and December last year.
Rhoda Grant said ” After such a huge investment having being spent on this vessel, I am somewhat concerned to learn that 68 sailings were cancelled due to adverse weather conditions. Yes, I appreciate that this is a call that the Master or Captain of the vessel will make, taking cognisance of all other surrounding factors, but this number seems to me to be particularly high for a new vessel over a six month period and makes me wonder if the vessel is actually fit for purpose.
” Of course they get pretty severe weather out in the Minch, but is it so bad that so many sailings have to be cancelled? I would have thought that these factors would have been considered when they designed the build.
Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant is extremely concerned for the future of remote GPs’ practices after a prominent figure from the Rural GP Association of Scotland (RGPAS) resigned from a key working group.
Dr David Hogg, Vice-Chair of RGPAS, says that the short life Remote and Rural General Practice Working Group, set up by the Scottish Government in the wake of the New GP Contract, appears to have “fallen by the wayside” when it comes to finding ways to ensure the contract is implemented successfully in rural areas.
Moreover, Mr Hogg says he has become “increasing despondent about us seeing any pragmatic, realistic proposals to reverse the damaging effects of the new GP Contract in rural Scotland”. There is also no-one to take over RGPAS’s representation on the working group because Dr Hogg’s says his colleagues are occupied “trying to safe-guard local services from the threats of the new contract”.
“This doesn’t bode well for the future of rural health care when GPs are stressing that what’s on the table with the new contract is an urban model and this just doesn’t suit remote and rural areas,” said Mrs Grant.
“A recent survey carried out by RGPAS highlighted that 82% of members believed the outlook for rural healthcare was worse under the contract, 88% of members voted to reject the new contract at the time of implementation, while 92% said they would vote to reject the contract based on their experience so far.
“GPs are worried it will cause poor continuity of care for patients and that procedures, currently performed at surgeries, are being centralised – for instance for blood tests or vaccinations. This will inevitably inconvenience patients and worsen health outcomes by raising barriers to care.
“My reading for Dr Hogg’s resignation is that the working group is turning a deaf ear to very serious concerns being raised by rural GPs across Scotland and the Highlands and Islands. He’s tried but he can’t try anymore and the process appears to be painfully slow.
“I will again contact Health Secretary Jean Freeman about this new development asking that she does not brush off the problems suffered by rural GPs, only to hear the views of urban GPs.”
In January Mrs Grant met Ms Freeman in Holyrood alongside Dingwall GP Miles Mack and Inverness GP Phil Wilson, also a Professor of Primary Care and Rural Health at the University of Aberdeen, to discuss the challenges faced by rural and remote practices under the new contract. The issue had been raised with her and with her Labour MSP colleague David Stewart.
GPs have told the MSPs that the new contract fails to recognise the unique workload in rural areas where surgeries deal with a far greater range of medical problems – including emergencies that would be dealt with in hospitals in urban areas.
The contract states that other health care professionals will be employed to deal with extra tasks such as blood tests or vaccinations but Mrs Grant argues there must be flexibility for GPs to retain the old system of care. The new contract’s funding formula has been based, under this new system, on the number of appointments and does not take account of issues in rural areas such as patient and doctor travel.
Note to editors
The short life Remote and Rural General Practice Working Group (RRGPWG) remit is working to support rural areas to deliver the first phase of the new contract. The group members include the BMA, Royal College of General Practitioners, Scottish Rural Medicine Collaborative, Scottish Government, NHS Boards, integration authorities and patient representation.
Dr Hogg’s resignation letter is on the RGPAS website:
Rhoda Grant MSP has received information from Cancer Research UK on NHS Highland – she will be publishing similar information for other health boards in the Highlands and Islands