Graeme Dey MSP

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Meeting of the Parliament 22 January 2015 : Thursday, January 22, 2015
Graeme Dey (Angus South) (SNP)

I wish to focus my speech on the strategic narrative of the 2020 vision. It discusses

“collaboration and cooperation partnership working ... with the voluntary sector”

among others, as well as

“increased flexibility, provision of local services”.

While I entirely support the provision of exceptional healthcare in our main hospitals, as someone who represents a rural area I believe that the delivery of the 2020 vision must have, at the heart of its intent, the aim of delivering appropriately for rural communities in those communities. We are seeing tangible progress in Angus South, and I want to highlight some examples.

As the cabinet secretary knows, having visited the village nearly four years ago to meet campaigners, there has been a long-running issue in Letham over the fact that there is no direct access to GPs, with residents having to travel to Forfar, Arbroath, Friockheim or even Brechin for appointments. The original desire to have a satellite general practice has not and will not be realised, for a variety of reasons. However, innovative thinking, community engagement and the potential to access Government funding mean that, at long last, we are moving to address the situation through a house of care arrangement, which will offer GPs from all of the practices where villagers are registered the opportunity to provide appropriate services at a facility in Letham. Having sat in on the initial meetings between the NHS and community representatives, I am optimistic that we will end up with something that fits the 2020 vision, meets the aspirations of locals and is sustainable.

I welcome the move to enhancing the services on offer at Arbroath infirmary, especially those involving palliative care. If what is proposed comes to fruition, we will end up with day-patient treatments that have, until now, required tiring journeys to and from Ninewells to be made from the local area. People will also be supported in their final days in modern, local facilities in Angus.

If I may, I will digress slightly. I am sure that the cabinet secretary would concur that the way in which planned changes to healthcare delivery are conveyed to the public is vital. There is a lesson to be learned from Arbroath, where, instead of having a good-news story about replacing antiquated, not-fit-for-purpose end-of-life provision at Little Cairnie hospital with the kind of facilities that we would all want in the town, the story broke as “Much loved local hospital to close”. It is important that the public are made aware of all aspects of proposed healthcare changes, but such misrepresentations in the media—which, to be fair, were not at fault in this instance—can shed unwarranted doubt on this Government’s and our NHS’s commitment to delivering services outwith the major conurbations.

It is not only the communities of Letham and Arbroath in my constituency that are benefiting from these 2020 vision-type developments; improvements are being made throughout all local communities of Angus South, most notably through the work of the joint improvement team. JIT has implemented the south Angus locality medicine for the elderly model, which involves close working between GPs, hospital doctors, therapists and—importantly—social workers to cater for the healthcare and welfare of the elderly population. As a result of that integrated initiative, elderly patients experience the comfort of being cared for in their local settings, whether at home or in their local infirmaries, while gaining the reassurance of care continuity with their own health professionals at Ninewells.

Impressively, the model has led to a 60 per cent reduction in unscheduled admission to hospitals from care homes, a 40 per cent reduction in new care home admissions and an eight-day reduction in the length of stay in orthopaedics. The area now uses a third fewer beds for those over 75 years than any other part of Tayside; it has the fewest delayed discharges in Tayside; and it has halved the number of patients going into 24-hour care from hospital. I understand that, now that the model has proven its worth, its roll-out across Tayside, supported by the £7.86 million announced on Tuesday by the cabinet secretary, is being considered.

Despite the examples that I have provided, no one can deny that there is room for improvement. With the emphasis on local delivery, we need to encourage partnership working, including with the voluntary sector. In that respect, I want to highlight the threatened ending of Action on Hearing Loss’s excellent Tayside hear to help programme, about which I have written to the cabinet secretary. The non-renewal of lottery funding means that the programme might have only weeks to run, unless the NHS locally steps in or alternative national funds can be accessed.

Action on Hearing Loss’s trained volunteers go out into towns across my constituency and elsewhere, servicing and adjusting hearing aids and thereby alleviating the pressure on central audiology services. If the programme closes, these central services will become swamped by demand for relatively minor work that can be carried out more suitably in our communities. Moreover, we will end up in a situation that is the direct opposite to the direction of travel for the 2020 vision in Tayside. I therefore ask the cabinet secretary to encourage NHS Tayside to enter into dialogue with Action on Hearing Loss as a matter of urgency to find a way of continuing this important work.

Ahead of this debate, members received a number of briefings from assorted sources. I want to mention the BMA’s briefing, which I thought was thoughtful, well argued and, in the main, difficult not to agree with. The BMA is right to highlight the issue of GP recruitment and retention and to call for action to promote general practice as an attractive career choice in remote and rural areas. It is spot on in other ways, but I would have welcomed some acknowledgement of the positive practical implications of measures adopted under the JIT model for general practices.

We hear all the time about how stretched GPs are and how that impacts on their face-to-face interaction with patients, but last winter NHS Tayside introduced a pilot project in which an additional doctor was deployed to cover three practices—two in my constituency, and one in the cabinet secretary’s—and provide support in dealing with elderly patients. The scheme was such a success—as has been acknowledged by NHS Tayside and the practices, which admitted that its arrival had freed up GPs to engage with other patients—that it has been continued and is being rolled out elsewhere.

While pointing out where we can and need to do better, we should also recognise the positive steps that have already been taken and are being taken.

16:13  

Health and Sport Committee 20 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Graeme Dey (Angus South) (SNP)

I am the MSP for Angus South.



Health and Sport Committee 20 January 2015 : Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Graeme Dey

To pick up on Mr Preston’s point first, surely the bill seeks to bring about the avoidance of unbearable suffering.

I understand perfectly Dr MacKellar’s point about looking to the horizon, but if we strip this back, perhaps there is a danger that we are missing the point. If we reject the bill, we would potentially be saying to people with terminal conditions that they must suffer unendurably because we say that they should. We would, in effect, be imposing that judgment without ever understanding where people with terminal conditions are coming from. I do not think that we can duck that issue, even if it suits us to do that. My question, therefore, is whether we have the right as a society to say that to people.



Meeting of the Parliament 15 January 2015 : Thursday, January 15, 2015
Graeme Dey (Angus South) (SNP)

There are very obvious recipients of the praise in the motion, and we have already heard them being referenced across the chamber. I echo much of what has been said and, like Alison McInnes, I pay particular tribute to the power workers who have battled horrendous conditions over the past week or so to restore services to many rural households. It is all too easy to look at the update emails that we as MSPs have received in recent days and to reflect on the number of houses that were left without power, but we should, of course, consider the enormous effort that went on, in awful weather, to address the situation.

I want to focus on a little-recognised group of people whose efforts in rural parts of our country help to keep Scotland safe and moving when the winter ravages descend on us: farmers. Members around the chamber who represent rural areas will be entirely aware of the role that farmers play in clearing and gritting vital remote rural routes throughout our country. That not only allows residents to travel, but makes it possible for the emergency services to get to remote areas, in inclement weather, when they are needed.

It would be remiss of us not to take the opportunity to highlight that contribution to a wider audience. With the best will in the world, it is unrealistic to expect rural authorities to keep at their disposal sufficient resources to be able to clear every mile of road, however hard to reach, as soon as the snow starts to fall. That is why the arrangements with local farmers are so important. The nature of those arrangements can vary from area to area and between the formal and informal.

It is difficult to pin down exact Scotland-wide figures, but a 2011 survey identified that, out of 28 responding councils, 15 employed farmers on an ad-hoc basis and 13, including Angus Council, Perth and Kinross Council and Aberdeenshire Council, had formal agreements in place. Currently in Angus, 19 farmers and agricultural contractors are working through Tayside Contracts to spread salt and grit and plough snow. That mainly takes place on high-land category 2 rural routes that are treated just before school buses in the morning and category 3 non-priority routes, which are mainly rural routes, but in some cases are town residential routes, across the constituencies that Nigel Don and I represent.

In some instances, the council provides snowploughs to be attached to tractors, although sometimes the farmers use their own kit. The farmer is then allocated a route that they must keep clear, but they can also use the plough for any routes of their own choosing that they wish to clear—that happens.

Farmers I know go beyond that. I am aware of one farmer in Angus who adapted a piece of his own machinery to suck up snow along a track that serves a large number of properties and blow it into a neighbouring field. Of course, we will all be aware of instances of farmers coming to the rescue of motorists who have slid off rural routes into ditches.

It is important to stress the planning and organisation that have gone into Scotland’s farmers being very much part of the response to emergency or severe weather incidents. In 2012, NFU Scotland, Transport Scotland and the Society of Chief Officers of Transportation in Scotland produced guidance for both councils and farmers in “The Use of Farmers for Winter Service—A Code of Practice” to provide minimum standards and improve the services that were already provided. Although not mandatory, the code is being utilised widely, leading to greater consistency in winter service engagement between local authorities and farmers.

The code highlights areas of regulatory compliance and risk. I was interested to see in the Scottish Farming Leader’s latest edition an article highlighting the legal issues relating to agriculture becoming involved in such activities.

It is welcome to see that Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs has relaxed the legislation covering red diesel and that its use is permitted while spreading materials to deal with frost, ice or snow.

A lot of smart thinking is going on out there in our rural communities. Just before Christmas, I was interested to read an article about a group in the Borders that applied for a wind farm community fund grant to buy a tractor with a snowplough and salt-spreader attachments, which local farmers have come together to use. I would suggest that that is a good use of community benefit.

The help farmers provide is not only limited to clearing routes of snow and ice; farmers are often drafted in by the council to help to remove trees that may have blown down in storms or to clear ditches when flooding poses a risk. Therefore, let us please add Scotland’s farmers to the list of those whom we are crediting today.

I note NFU Scotland’s work in conjunction with Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance and the Scottish Ambulance Service to ensure that call-outs to rural areas are best facilitated. The initiative is designed to encourage rural workers, if they are caught up in an emergency, to be able to pinpoint their exact location through the use of grid referencing. It is hoped that the initiative will be adopted widely by those working on our land so that, when the need arises, casualties or colleagues of casualties can identify their location, which facilitates the swiftest possible response by ambulance services.

The NFUS is providing pocket-sized grid reference cards to all its members and is looking for those to be filled in before the need arises. The cards will note unique landmarks such as lochs, prominent hills, masts, water features, churches, bridges or roads. The initiative is part of the farm safety Scotland partnership—the Scottish Government is a participant—which promotes safe working environments across rural Scotland and tackles a number of issues related to the farming fatalities and injuries that happen each year.

On the subject of farming and the part that the industry plays in responding to emergency situations, I commend the NFUS for its continued lobbying of the UK Government to commit to improving mobile networks across Scotland. The substandard quality of the networks in rural locations can present a health and safety issue when the need to call in the blue-light services arises.

15:52  

Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 14 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Graeme Dey (Angus South) (SNP)

Good morning, cabinet secretary. I wish to clarify something. You said that you will be required to review the 12-to-200-miles aspects of the plan after three years and that that review will feed into the five-year review. Does that mean that, if you identify issues after three years, you will have to wait until after the five-year review to do anything about them, or will you have the flexibility to act on those issues immediately?



Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 14 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Graeme Dey

Following last week’s evidence session, at which concerns were raised about the plan’s requirements on new cables and replacing existing cables, I reread the plan. It struck me that there is room for commonsense, case-by-case management of the situation, which is what Scottish Renewables has suggested. Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution is deeply concerned that the plan will require it to bury cables underground, which would have significant cost implications. Is further consultation needed on chapter 4, as SSEPD has said? Alternatively, could the cabinet secretary provide the committee with further clarity today or by amending the plan to show exactly what it is looking for?



Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 14 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Graeme Dey

Thank you—you have clarified the point to some extent.

Another point that arose last week was about the seemingly inordinate amount of time that it took—in an emergency situation—to resolve the Jura case. When a cable has to be replaced urgently, should there be a fast-track approach to ensure that the islands are reconnected more quickly than happened in that case?



Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 14 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Graeme Dey

From the experience of that case, and taking all those factors into account, do you accept that there is a need to hasten the process when that can be done? That was a considerable time for the islands to have been offline.



Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 14 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Graeme Dey

That covers it.



Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee 07 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 07, 2015
Graeme Dey (Angus South) (SNP)

I am the MSP for Angus South and deputy convener of the committee.

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-12120.1 Jenny Marra: 2020 Vision, the Strategic Forward Direction of the NHS—As an amendment to
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12101 John Swinney: Budget (Scotland) (No.4) Bill—That the Parliament agrees to the general prin
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12095.4 Ken Macintosh: Tackling Inequalities—As an amendment to motion S4M-12095 in the name of
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12095.2 Alex Johnstone: Tackling Inequalities—As an amendment to motion S4M-12095 in the name of
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12095.1 Willie Rennie: Tackling Inequalities—As an amendment to motion S4M-12095 in the name of
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12095 Alex Neil: Tackling Inequalities—That the Parliament agrees that a strong, sustainable eco
>> Show more
YesCarried

Selection of John Pentland MSP for appointment to the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body.
Not VotedCarried

S4M-12060.2 Hugh Henry: Commending the People who Keep Scotland Safe in Emergencies—As an amendment
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12045.3 Shona Robison: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to motion S4M-12045 in the name of Rich
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12045.2 Jackson Carlaw: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to motion S4M-12045 in the name of Ric
>> Show more
NoDefeated

Search for other Motions lodged by Graeme Dey
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Motion S4M-12151: Graeme Dey, Angus South, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 23/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-12137: Graeme Dey, Angus South, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 22/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-12126: Graeme Dey, Angus South, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 21/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-12114: Graeme Dey, Angus South, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 20/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-12084: Graeme Dey, Angus South, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 15/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-12042: Graeme Dey, Angus South, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 12/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11872: Graeme Dey, Angus South, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11810: Graeme Dey, Angus South, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 04/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11803: Graeme Dey, Angus South, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 04/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11709: Graeme Dey, Angus South, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 26/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Graeme Dey
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4O-03839: Graeme Dey, Angus South, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 08/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03791: Graeme Dey, Angus South, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 01/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03643: Graeme Dey, Angus South, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 27/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03583: Graeme Dey, Angus South, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 29/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03556: Graeme Dey, Angus South, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 22/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03474: Graeme Dey, Angus South, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 04/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03409: Graeme Dey, Angus South, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 18/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-02143: Graeme Dey, Angus South, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 01/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03279: Graeme Dey, Angus South, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 20/05/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03250: Graeme Dey, Angus South, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 12/05/2014 Show Full Question >>

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