13th November 2015
Figures compiled this week show that the number of NHS Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services staff (CAMHS) in Scotland has increased by almost half since the SNP came to office, confirming that mental health, particularly that of young people, is a key priority for the Scottish Government.
The waiting time guarantee now applies to these services and, while the waiting times are presently longer than we’d like, this 50% increase in staff numbers shows the commitment of the SNP to improving this service and developing parity between mental and physical health.
Continuing on the health theme, I am delighted to be part of a team of MPs who will launch a national campaign later this month to encourage people to wash their hands to help prevent infections. It may sound hard to believe but, worldwide, 600,000 deaths every year are caused by poor hand hygiene.
With huge concern over the growth of antibiotic resistance, which is resulting in the deaths of 25,000 people every year across Europe, the campaign will highlight how basic hand hygiene can help to control the spread of such infections and reduce the risk of bugs becoming resistant.
Under the banner of ‘Handz’, the campaign will supply a tool kit for all MPs to take into schools to encourage pupils to take just the 30 seconds it needs to wash their hands properly and regularly.
Many people carry MRSA in their bodies without coming to any harm but this bacteria can be a serious threat to patients who are ill in hospital, particularly if they have had surgery. Thorough hand washing reduces the spread of germs and bacteria and teaching the importance of clean hands to children, as well as adults, will reduce the risk of infection to everyone.
On a lighter note, I would like to congratulate Irvine Harbour for being one of the three finalists in the Great Place category at the recent Academy of Urbanism awards. Although beaten to first place by the Peace Bridge in Derry, reaching the final was a great achievement and a recognition of the successful co-operation between many Irvine organisations, including Irvine Burns Club Harbourside Heritage project and North Ayrshire Council.
Staying local and I would like to commend all those who took part peacefully in the counter demonstration against the Scottish Defence League in Monkton on Sunday. Individuals and groups from all over Ayrshire turned out in numbers on what was a very wet and windy day to show their support for those who are seeking asylum and refuge in the local area. In these turbulent times, it is important that humanity prevails and we look to help those fleeing war and persecution as we would wish to be helped if we were in their shoes.
Similarly, I would like to extend my condolences across the Channel to all those affected by last Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris. France has now suffered two deadly assaults on its freedoms by religious extremists in the space of a year and I am sure you will all stand with me in solidarity with the French people at this terrible time.