Week Ending 9th October 2015
Westminster has been in recess for the past two weeks for the Party conferences and we have been fortunate to enjoy this beautiful, unseasonal weather. Now, however, it is back to London and Parliamentary business.
On my return from Ethiopia, I travelled straight to York where I was privileged to be the opening speaker at the ‘Doctors for the NHS’ conference. I used my speech to talk about the detrimental changes to the NHS in England through privatisation and the creeping introduction of charges, and how the SNP is protecting the Scottish NHS from any such changes. Those in attendance were strongly opposed to privatisation and spoke enviously of Scotland’s unified, public NHS.
The differences between our health service and that in England are growing greater all the time as the UK Government continues to contract out services and devalue staff in NHS England. Although we can be thankful that the SNP takes a very different path from the Tories in this regard, it is important to fight to keep NHS England a quality, public service, otherwise the knock-on effects to NHS Scotland will, potentially, be severe. This is why I joined hundreds of Junior Doctors protesting in George Square last week who were showing solidarity with their colleagues down south whose contracts are being forcibly changed by the UK Government.
More locally, I took part in a consultation event with the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Work, Skills and Training, Roseanna Cunningham MSP on the future of employment support services in the Irvine area. Hosted by North Ayrshire Council, the Cabinet Secretary is consulting with local business to help shape these services when work programmes designed to support the long-term unemployed and the disabled are devolved to Scotland in 2017. After the meeting, Ms Cunningham went on to open the new Employability Hub in Stevenston, which will provide a range of benefits from advice to back-to-work training. Discussions are taking place with regards to establishing a similar Hub in Irvine, which will be a welcome support in helping those out of work back into employment in the surrounding area.