Job Vacancy: Office Manager

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

MSP asks Government to look into Cairngorm financial fiasco

Funicular Railway, Cairngorm
cc-by-sa/2.0 – © Peter S –

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.

  • The infrastructure of the mountain, the lifts and railway, are owned by the public, under the wing of HIE. In 2014 Natural Retreats took it over the running of Cairngorm. The BBC investigation highlighted that the company was then sold to Natural Assets Investments Limited – a company with many of the same directors as Natural Retreats. Natural Retreats had the lease to operate the mountain – but the assets had been transferred to the wider group.


Note to editors:

The Topical question:

Rhoda Grant S5T-01570

  1. To ask the Scottish Government, in light of the recent BBC investigation, what action it is taking regarding its dealings with Natural Retreats and CairnGorm Mountain Limited.

MV Loch Seaforth cancelled sailings

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.






MSP extremely concerned about GP Contract after resignation from working body

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:

Highlands and Islands MSP learns how early diagnosis can beat cancer sooner


Photo:  Rhoda with Jonathan Roden, who is Public Affairs Officer (Scotland) for Cancer Research UK.

MSP Rhoda Grant met Cancer Research UK staff at the Scottish Labour party conference in Dundee last week, to learn about the charity’s priorities for beating cancer sooner in Scotland

“Like everywhere in Scotland, cancer has a huge effect on families in the Highlands and Islands so it has been fantastic to meet with the Cancer Research UK team to hear more about their priorities for diagnosing patients sooner in Scotland,” said Mrs Grant, who represents the region.

Mrs Grant heard about Cancer Research UK’s latest campaign, which urges the Scottish Government to address shortages in the diagnostic workforce in Scotland.

The earlier a cancer is diagnosed the more likely it is to be treated successfully. For some of the most common types of cancer, survival is more than three times likely higher when the disease is diagnosed at its earliest stages.

Yet statistics show that more than 18,000 patients in Scotland waited more than the target time of six weeks to receive a diagnostic test in the quarter ending 38 December 2018.*

The report also shows that, during the same quarter, only 78.1% of patients received the tests they needed within six weeks. The target is that no one should be waiting longer than six weeks for a test.

Gordon Matheson, Public Affairs Manager for Scotland at Cancer Research UK, said: “the NHS is under continued strain with too many patients still waiting too long for tests, some of which could detect cancer”.

“With a welcome focus on screening and early detection of cancer, there’s an urgent need to comprehensively address workforce shortages.”

“Much needed investment in this area is beginning to emerge and it’s vital we see a strong emphasis on making sure we have enough staff to meet increasing patient need, and that existing staff are being used to their best potential.”


* The statistics reflect the waiting times for all diagnostic services in Scotland, including those that affect cancer patients.
The full ISD Scotland report can be found here:
Diagnostic Test & Investigation 31 Dec 18 (current) 30 Sep 18
31 Dec 17
Key Diagnostic Tests & Investigations 78.1 78.1
All Endoscopy 57 56 56.9
All Radiology 88.1 59.2 90.6

Please be advised that these figures should not be compared between Health Boards, as some of them may have a small number of patients that could lead to variations.

Health Board Waiting within 6 week Standard (%)
NHS Ayrshire & Arran 65.1
NHS Borders 61
NHS Dumfries & Galloway 97.6
NHS Fife 98.4
NHS Forth Valley 98.1
NHS Golden Jubilee National Hospital 100.0
NHS Grampian 67.7
NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde 76.1
NHS Highland 74.3
NHS Lanarkshire 97.4
NHS Lothian 66.2
NHS Orkney 96.8
NHS Shetland 100.0
NHS Tayside 90.9
NHS Western Isles 69.6

About Cancer Research UK

• Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research.
• Cancer Research UK’s pioneering work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has helped save millions of lives.
• Cancer Research UK receives no government funding for its life-saving research. Every step it makes towards beating cancer relies on every donation made.
• Cancer Research UK has been at the heart of the progress that has already seen survival in the UK double in the last 40 years.
• Today, 2 in 4 people survive their cancer for at least 10 years. Cancer Research UK’s ambition is to accelerate progress so that by 2034, 3 in 4 people will survive their cancer for at least 10 years.
• Cancer Research UK supports research into all aspects of cancer through the work of over 4,000 scientists, doctors and nurses.
• Together with its partners and supporters, Cancer Research UK’s vision is to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.

For further information about Cancer Research UK’s work or to find out how to support the charity, please call 0300 123 1022 or visit Follow us on Twitter and Facebook