Rhoda Grant issues statement after medics’ concerns

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, has called on Health Secretary Humza Yousaf to provide an urgent response following an open letter criticising the recent Moray Maternity Services Review.

Mrs Grant said, “For 18 senior clinicians at Raigmore maternity unit to say they were never consulted on plans to send Moray women to Raigmore is a shocking indictment of the review process.  The Health Secretary must immediately explain how he and his predecessor allowed this to happen, and how it impacts on the report’s recommendations.

“The open letter confirms what most of us already know – that Raigmore does not have capacity to take on large numbers of women from a neighbouring health board.  The only viable solution is to reinstate consultant maternity services at Dr Gray’s.

“I will continue to work alongside Keep MUM to give women in Moray the maternity services they so urgently need.”

 

 

NHS Highland has plans to re-open hospital minor injuries unit, MSP told

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, has been told that the health authority is planning to move the minor injuries unit at Lawson Memorial Hospital in Golspie to another area.

NHS Highland’s Chief Executive, Pam Dudek, confirmed the unit had been closed since March 2020 during the first lockdown.

She told Mrs Grant that the unit was situated within the in-patient ward, sharing an entrance and staffing, with no waiting area and a small room which would not allow social distancing.

But she added: “This has been reviewed and there is a plan in place to move the unit to another area where it will have its own entrance and dedicated staff will be allocated. The contingency plan that was put in place in March 2020 remains in place.”

Mrs Grant welcomed the news that the unit would be getting its own space but added: “I am keen to see this progressing as we are coming out of Covid restrictions and it would be good to see work starting on consulting the community and getting the plans in action.

“Also, I would like to see more detail on the plans as to where the new unit will be, where the staff will come from and a timeline for the development. I would hate to see facilities like this unit being eroded in rural areas.”

The MSP wrote to NHS Highland following a constituent’s inquiry and complaints that the public were unaware of the closure.

Ms Dudek said patients requiring to be seen in the MIU were routed to their own GP and seen in their local practice.

She said: “Anyone from out of area requiring a consultation is seen in the GP practice which is covering the Lawson in-patient ward at the time. The Flow navigation centre (111 calls) is aware of this plan and route people as appropriate. At present we are unable to give any timescales around reopening as this is determined by when building work can be completed.”

Mrs Grant is also concerned about the future of the closed Strathy ward at Migdale Hospital, in Bonar Bridge, and is keen to see what NHS Highland is planning when Covid restrictions are lifted. She is also concerned about the future of the Royal Northern Infirmary in Inverness.

MSPs agree to keep up pressure for Essential Tremor treatment 

A Scottish Parliament committee has decided to keep pressure on the Scottish Government to allow patients with Essential Tremor to be treated as ‘standard care’ under the NHS.

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, spoke at the Citizen Participation and Petitions Committee this morning (Jan 19) in support of Inverness constituent Mary Ramsay’s long-standing petition.

Mrs Ramsay, from Dalneigh, Chair of the Scottish Tremor Society, is asking the Scottish Government to back to provision of magnetic resonance-guides focused ultrasound (MRgFUS) technology.

The deep brain ultrasound treatment can transform the quality of life for people with uncontrollable tremors and is available in Scotland after a University of Dundee fundraising campaign, although the number of patients is limited. The treatment uses sound waves to help destroy tissue that can prompt unwanted movements experienced by those with the condition.

Although in Scotland the treatment is termed ‘experimental’ it is now available under the NHS in England, in London, and in various countries around the world. To achieve the campaigners’ goal of the treatment being used as ‘standard care’ for Essential Tremor it has yet to be evaluated by health bodies including the National Special Services Committee (NSSC)

Mrs Grant told the petitions committee that since the last petitions committee she had had several meetings with Mrs Ramsay and other stakeholders and had written to Ralph Roberts the Chair of the NSSC.

She discovered the National Services Division (NSD) is due to meet with the clinical team in Dundee towards the end of January to discuss how a formal application for designation and the relevant paperwork can be prepared for consideration by both the National Patient, Public & Professional Reference Group (NPPRG) as well as the NSSC.

However, it is likely that it will be May or June when those bodies can look at the application with their work previously paused due to the pandemic.

Mrs Grant continued: “There is no guarantee that they will reach a conclusion at that time. So, it feels to me that there is still no real recognition of the issues that people with Essential Tremor face having to travel to London for assessment and back there if they are assessed as being suitable for procedure, and also no acknowledgement of the waiting times people face and the impact on their lives.

“There are real fears that the decision will be further delayed beyond spring or summer and I think this committee know how long this has been before this committee and the previous committee.

“I share Mary Ramsay’s frustration that we appear to be moving at a snail’s pace to bring this much needed treatment to patients in Scotland.  With patients having to consider joining a waiting list in London when the treatment is available here.

“Indeed, NHS England is looking to create another centre to deal with demand.

“It makes no sense that we have the equipment and knowledge here in Scotland, but we are not using it and patients are forced to travel far from home to access it.  It is not good for them and not good for the public purse.”

She explained that 80 patients have been referred for assessment in Dundee last year, around 25% of those patients have been considered appropriate for treatment.

The committee agreed with Mrs Grant’s suggestion that it should keep the petition open and keep up the pressure for the treatment to be available for people closer to home and to contact both the NPPRG and the NSSC to see if they could give priority to considering this treatment.

Mrs Grant said that both Mrs Ramsay and the first patient to get the Dundee treatment, Ian Sharp, were happy to give evidence to the committee on their own experience and show first-hand the difference the treatment can make.

SNP MSP and Deputy Convener, David Torrance, also supported the petition and asked the committee to write to the Scottish Government highlighting the success of the treatment, asking if funding could be made available for more patients and how the government will raise awareness among health professionals for the treatment.

After the meeting Mrs Ramsay said: “It is frustrating all this toing and froing. I wish these specialist health groups could put themselves in the position of a person with Essential Tremor.

“It is the distance and expense of going to London, then initial assessment which is a wait of two to three years, and then further wait for actual treatment. Can they honestly say they are quite happy to put up with that? I don’t think so.”

Link to the petition

2099 (parliament.scot)

Rhoda Grant calls for an overhaul of the appointments process

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, has described the appointment of the chairman of CMAL to the same role at the CalMac parent company, David MacBrayne Ltd, as “ludicrous” and called for the overhaul of Scotland’s public appointments system.

Mrs Grant tabled Parliamentary questions about the process which led to the appointment of Erik Østergaard, who has been chairman of the infrastructure quango Caledonian Marine Assets Limited, to take over the MacBrayne chair from January 3rd.

It emerged that the three person panel which recommended the Danish businessman’s appointment included the civil servant who heads the Scottish Government department with responsibility for both CMAL and CalMac and also a “regular” on the Scottish Government quango circuit, Andrew Thin, who has held a series of public appointments through the same process.

Mrs Grant said: “The same people are involved in these appointments all the time, either being appointed themselves or as members of selection panels.

“It is ludicrous to pretend this is an independent process. There is no transparency, and it works against the interests of communities affected. It is beyond credibility that someone so deeply involved in the Ferguson debacle should now be put in charge of CalMac who are the victims of it, along with the communities they serve”.

In addition to the senior civil servant, Frances Pacitti, and Mr Thin, the third panel member was Bill Smith who has been the Scottsh Government’s “Public Appointments Adviser” since 2008.

There were six candidates for the post and three were interviewed, first by the panel and then by Transport Minister Graeme Dey, who also appointed three new MacBrayne board members – none of them with island connections.

Mrs Grant said that in spite of being on the CMAL board for 14 years and chairman for seven, Mr Østergaard is virtually unknown in island communities. “However, they know all about CMAL’s failings.” she added.

“CMAL’s failure to provide the vessels which are now five years late and still far from finished at the Ferguson yard has led to immense disruption and economic loss for island communities.

“How on earth can one of the key players in that debacle now be put at the head of the ferry company to which the ferries have not been delivered? How can there be any public confidence in that appointment?”.

She said the Østergaard appointment is “an extreme example of a system that keeps producing the same people in different roles – so long as they keep their mouths shut and do not challenge the SNP ministers who repeatedly appoint them.”

 

Useful telephone numbers this Christmas Period

My constituency and parliamentary offices will be closed until 10th January 2022.  We will aim to respond to you when we return.

If you have a pressing or urgent concern during this Christmas period, please read through the below list and contact the relevant organisation.

NHS Highland – serving both Highland and Argyll and Bute

Telephone number: 01463 704000

Highland Council

Argyll and Bute Council  

Moray Council 

NHS Grampian – serving Moray area

NHS Shetland 

Shetland Islands Council 

NHS Orkney 

Orkney Islands Council 

NHS Western Isles 

Western Isles Council 

Police 
Emergency Telephone – 999

Non emergency – 101

NHS 24 

Telephone – 111

 

Mental Health Support 

NHS Western Isles Mental Health and Learning Disability Services

Mental Health Support Services in Moray 

Samaritans 

Telephone  – 116 123

Clear Your Head 

Mikey’s Line 

Text: 07786207755

Breathing Space 

Telephone: 0800838587

 

 

 

 

Part 1 Options Appraisal published on A9 North Kessock to Tore route

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, has welcomed the publication of the Part 1 Options Appraisal on the A9 North Kessock to Tore safety study.

The report looked at options developed during the Case for Change stage, taking account of objectives developed with stakeholders as well as technical criteria in line with Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance (STAG).

Extending the slip road south of the Munlochy junction was the most popular of the medium term options with an overwhelming 86% of respondents supporting this while a long term option of installing a grade-separated junction at the present Munlochy junction, was favoured by 66% of respondents.

Four options are discounted from the process as these have been committed for delivery by Transport Scotland. One of these committed options is to provide street lighting at Munlochy Junction.

Rhoda Grant said “It is clear Improvement is much needed and the report has highlighted many possible options for this. These options will now been looked at by Transport Scotland who will then consider the next steps.

“I’m glad the communities’ voices are being heard and we need to press ahead with the next stage of the process without delay.

Mrs Grant continued “While the appraisal appears to have ruled out the option of reducing the speed limit along the stretch of road from North Kessock to Tore I am pleased to see that there is overwhelming support for extending the slip road south and support for a grade- separated junction at the Munlochy turnoff.

The MSP concluded “Installing the street lighting at the Munlochy junction was also popular and work has now started on this. I know communities the length of the Black Isle and beyond will be relieved to see the work begin.”

“We need to keep the pressure on the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland to move forward with additional improvements without delay.”

The possible options identified for progression in the appraisal include: amend road signage for visitors and tourists, activated warning signs, prohibit U-turns at intermediate junctions and Munlochy junction, prohibit all right turns at Munlochy junction, prohibit right turn from B9161 at Munlochy junction to A9 Northbound, relocate bus stops on the A9 at Tore roundabout, improve pedestrian routes – integration with bus stops, particularly at Tore roundabout, improve pedestrian routes (footpaths) around Tore, improve pedestrian routes – controlled crossing at Tore roundabout, enhanced signage for cyclists, improve southbound on-slip at Munlochy junction, install traffic signals at Tore Roundabout, extend the right turn lane from the A9 to the B9161, convert Munlochy junction into a roundabout, grade separation at Munlochy junction.

Four options have been committed for delivery including: installation of street-lighting at the A9/B9161 Munlochy junction (already started), investigate improvements to road markings at Tore Roundabout, investigate improvements to active travel facilities at Tore Roundabout, review of the speed limit in the approaches to Tore roundabout including the A835 to the Tore PS junction.

 

Moray Maternity Review

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant spoke in the Scottish Parliament today on the independent review of Moray maternity services.

Mrs Grant said: “I too welcome the review but feel for families who rightly are frustrated by delays and therefore it would be good to have a clear indication of the time frame for the restoration of full maternity services at Dr Gray’s and, in the meantime, what support will be available for families who have to travel to Aberdeen or Inverness for maternity services, by way of accommodation and of child minding for their families?”

Scottish Government Health Secretary, Humza Yousaf, who gave a statement on the issue to MSPs, responded that Mrs Grant’s was a fair request and promised to find out about accommodation and travel costs in conversation with the NHS boards. He had earlier told Parliament that “key milestones” were needed for the development of plans going forward.

After the session, Mrs Grant, said that women in Moray had waited a long time for the review and she was concerned about how Raigmore Hospital would cope with an increased number of births from Moray in the light of continued NHS staff shortages.

Her Labour MSP colleague, Carol Mochan, revealed that there were 365 whole time nurse and midwifery vacancies at NHS Highland and at NHS Grampian 465 vacant posts, while there was a lack of paediatricians.

Mrs Grant said: “While I recognise this is a step forward, I am concerned that, despite promises from the Health Secretary, this will be a long time in the planning with the major stumbling block lack of staff and lack of investment.

“People in Caithness will also be looking to how this progresses as pregnant ‘at risk’ women there are having to endure a 200 mile round trip to give birth in Raigmore. They also will want to see more staff and investment in their area.”

Mrs Grant paid tribute to all those who came forward to give their views to the independent review, including NHS staff, the Keep Mum campaign group and mothers and their families.

Appraisal report due and question asked on A9 North Kessock to Tore study

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, is welcoming the imminent publication of the Part 1 appraisal report on the A9 North Kessock to Tore safety study.

Mrs Grant, who has tabled a Parliamentary Question asking if consideration will be given to lowering the speed limit to 50mph on this stretch of the road, said “Communities who use the road every day are desperate to see improvements introduced before any further accidents happen.

“I share the frustration at the amount of time that has passed since I first raised this with the Scottish Government two years ago so I welcome that the Part 1 appraisal report will be made public this week.

Mrs Grant concluded “We need to move forward with the interim work of installing the street lighting at the Munlochy junction as soon as possible and the concerns of local communities regarding the speed limit on this stretch of road must be considered by government in the meantime.”

Details of Mrs Grant’s Parliamentary Question below:-

Asked by: Grant, Rhoda, Highlands and Islands, Date lodged: 30 November 2021

To ask the Scottish Government what steps it is taking to improve safety on the A9 between Inverness and Tore, and whether it will consider lowering the speed limit on the road to 50mph.

Current Status: Awaiting answer

Right to Food Bill Consultation

 

 

Rhoda Grant MSP is ramping up her efforts to enshrine in law a statutory Right to Food, as new figures expose the extent of food poverty in Scotland.

New analysis of the Scottish Health Survey has shown that almost 364,000 adults in Scotland were worried about running out of food, while over 90,000 people had to go without food in the previous year.

Rhoda Grant has called these figures a “national scandal”, as she launched a consultation on her Right to Food Bill.

This Bill was originally proposed last term by former Scottish Labour MSP Elaine Smith and has now been picked up by Rhoda Grant, but last month the SNP and the Greens voted to delay the Bill moving forward by requiring another consultation.

Commenting, Scottish Labour MSP Rhoda Grant said:

“It is a national scandal that food poverty remains rife in a country as rich as Scotland.

“I hope this launches a meaningful conversation on how to tackle the scourge of food poverty, but the truth is it shouldn’t take yet another consultation to convince us to act.

“It is shameful that the SNP and the Greens are forcing us to waste valuable time consulting again while children up and down the country are going hungry.

“I hope we can drop the partisan politics and unite around this Bill to enshrine in law the fundamental principle that no-one in Scotland should be going without food.”

You can see the consultation document below

Right to Food Consultation Document

You can give your thoughts by taking part in the below survey

Right to Food Consultation – Give your thoughts