Mary Scanlon MSP

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Meeting of the Parliament 29 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Mary Scanlon (Highlands and Islands) (Con)

Will the member give way?



Meeting of the Parliament 29 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Mary Scanlon

It is inappropriate to talk about a member of my staff who has a contract with the Scottish Football Association. I ask Stewart Stevenson, as the convener of the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee, to reflect on his comments.

My granddaughter is a pupil at Mosstodloch school—I declare that interest.

The only proposals to close Milne’s are from Caledonia Consulting. I am sure that, as an SNP member, Stewart Stevenson will be aware that all the councillors in Moray Council will vote on Monday to determine whether that school is up for closure.



Meeting of the Parliament 29 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Mary Scanlon

I am on the same page on attainment levels. I have a paragraph in my closing speech on Milne’s high and I agree very much with Stewart Stevenson on the attainment level there.



Meeting of the Parliament 29 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Mary Scanlon (Highlands and Islands) (Con)

I am pleased to close the debate, and I thank all the members who contributed positively and constructively on this critical issue.

I was sorry to hear Mike Russell’s speech. I had hoped for something more positive. As the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, he protested a little bit too much. I remind him that Tories are always looking for good value for money and for a bargain. Given that his book is 50p in Bargain Books, many of us have been picking it up recently and reading it avidly.

I also thank Mr Russell. When I was appointed as education spokesman earlier this year, he invited me to his office to talk about education. I welcomed that because, although I was a lecturer for 20 years before coming into the Parliament, it was my first role in the education portfolio. While I sat below the glowing portrait of Mr Russell, he gave me his time and advice, which I welcomed. He advised me to meet leading figures in Scottish education, but the main thing that he advised me about, which I have never forgotten, was that one of the main critical issues in education was the attainment gap.

The final point that Mr Russell made is that he is very happy to work with other parties to reduce the attainment gap. I remind him of page 225 in “Grasping the Thistle”:

“the SNP needs to recognise … and give up its outmoded prejudice against talking with the Tories”.

Here we are. I am always waiting and even willing to tolerate and view that portrait through all the future meetings. I look forward to that.



Meeting of the Parliament 29 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Mary Scanlon

It is just that I cannot afford Mr Russell’s book at 50p and have to borrow it from Liz Smith.

Every speech from Labour members welcomed the debate and acknowledged that more could be done. They focused on the critical early years, which we have not all had time to do because of time constraints. We often consider primary, secondary, further and higher education, but the more that I read in the job that I am doing the more I appreciate that it is the early years that count. I commend everyone who mentioned the difference that a good nursery education can make.

We should all value the childcare workers in Scotland, who now have to be qualified, have to be registered with the Scottish Social Services Council and are accountable to the Care Inspectorate. They do a brilliant job for children before they go to school, and most of them are on the minimum wage, never mind the living wage. I ask that, when we talk about teachers, we do not forget the excellent job that all childcare workers do.

I commend Jayne Baxter’s remarks on looked-after children. I also mention Anne McTaggart and Ken Macintosh. He was cut off at his remarks on extracurricular activities, which are identified as one of the many things that can help future opportunities. Despite our different political ideologies, I thank the Labour Party for acknowledging the challenges that we face.

Liam McArthur was measured and considered. On the early years, he mentioned that each £1 invested before the age of three can save £11 later in life. Margaret Mitchell spoke about dyslexia, and I commend her for her commitment to chairing the cross-party group on dyslexia over many years. Mark McDonald also made some very good points on additional support needs, and I hope that his speech has not been detrimental to any ministerial prospects that may be coming his way in the pending reshuffle.

I say to Stewart Stevenson that perhaps he should have checked how many of the SNP Moray councillors were on the education steering group that was responsible for the review of the school estate in Moray prior to speaking in this Parliament.

When it comes to local authorities looking at the school estate, perhaps we have more in common than Mr Stevenson realises because I agree with him that it is not enough to focus just on pupil numbers, particularly in rural areas. A good example of that is Milne’s high school in Fochabers, which was recommended for closure by consultants. However, those consultants failed to pay any attention to the school’s excellent attainment levels, which compare very favourably, as the member said, with other schools in Moray and with virtual comparators across Scotland.

Like others, I commend the excellent work that is done by teachers and support staff across Scotland and I commend their commitment and dedication to pupils from all backgrounds every day of the week. One thing that I have noticed, particularly during the recent referendum debate, is the pupils’ political knowledge, which I certainly did not have at school. It is the knowledge of the environment and the knowledge and confidence that young children have in a partnership with teachers that was probably not there many years ago.

As Liz Smith said, in S4 fewer than 20 per cent of the most disadvantaged pupils attain five standard grade passes, while 60 per cent of their more affluent peers do. That is neither fair nor sustainable. It cannot be the case that a child’s postcode determines their educational attainment. I think that we can all agree on that. We may disagree on the solutions; we may disagree on the way forward; but I am very pleased that, under the convenership of Stewart Maxwell, the Education and Culture Committee is to spend time and energy looking at attainment. That is an opportunity for all parties across the chamber to look at the issue that we have been looking at today.

Good attainment at school is directly linked not only to the opportunities that are available to young people when they leave school but to their wellbeing and quality of life in future. As others have said, there has been an increase in the number of school leavers entering positive destinations and remaining in those destinations in the past few years. That is very welcome. The number of those who are entering employment, which is a positive destination, has also increased in the past two years, and that is in no small part due to the UK’s economic policy, which has resulted in a strong recovery from the recession.

The UK has had the biggest growth of employment within the G7 countries. The Scottish economy grew by almost 1 per cent, employment increased from 73 to 73.9 per cent in the second quarter of this year, and young people’s unemployment is now at a six-year low, so the link between a strong economy and providing opportunities cannot be disputed.

One of the main things that we should look at is that the number of children in workless households in Scotland has fallen again and is now lower than in the rest of the UK. In fact, the number is down by 38,000 in the past year.

Given that I have one minute left, I will move to the end of my speech. I want to say something consensual to finish the debate, although I appreciate that there has been a fair degree of consensus over the issue from some people.

I think that the one issue that we can all agree on is Ian Wood’s commission for developing Scotland’s young workforce. It is possibly the most exciting initiative in training and education that I have seen in decades. Many of its elements—the focus on preparation for work in schools; the option for vocational education; the reduction in snobbery as expressed in the attitude that everyone has to go to university; and the need to respect people no matter what job they do—are absolutely first class.

While we recognise the brilliant work that is done by teachers in schools and by childcare staff, I hope that we can all agree that every child in Scotland deserves an equal chance in life, and that improvements can be made to reduce the attainment gap if we all work together not only in the Education and Culture Committee but across the chamber.



Meeting of the Parliament 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Mary Scanlon (Highlands and Islands) (Con)

I am glad that the cabinet secretary recognised that NHS Highland required brokerage of £2.5 million from the Scottish Government, so that it could break even.

Given that NHS Highland met only two of the nine targets that are set out on page 23 of the Audit Scotland report, including the target on urgent referral for cancer treatment, and given that the board must make cuts of a further £12.3 million if it is to break even next year, including cuts of £10 million at Raigmore hospital, how concerned is the cabinet secretary that patients in the NHS Highland area are treated less favourably than patients in the rest of Scotland?



Meeting of the Parliament 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Mary Scanlon (Highlands and Islands) (Con)

I, too, thank Linda Fabiani for securing this debate on world mental health day and for giving us the opportunity to debate the critical issue of mental health.

In response to Sandra White’s question, Linda Fabiani mentioned early diagnosis and institutional issues. For many people, the issue is not only early diagnosis but a lack of diagnosis.

Although the motion shines the spotlight on schizophrenia, many issues that relate to that condition—including difficulties with getting employment, discrimination, stigma and shortened life expectancy, which other members have mentioned—also apply to most other mental health conditions.

The motion highlights the work of the East Kilbride support group. I also acknowledge the work of the Highland users group on mental health—HUG—which is very competently managed by Graham Morgan.

As a member of the Health and Community Care Committee, which scrutinised what became the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003—to which nearly 3,000 amendments were lodged at stage 2—I hoped that there would be significant improvements in early diagnosis, early intervention, appropriate treatment and support, with people not parked on anti-depressants, and that there would be access to cognitive behavioural therapy and other therapies, psychology and psychiatry specialists and advocacy and treatment with dignity and respect. I hoped and trusted that all the issues that we discussed in the first session of the Parliament would be significantly improved more than 10 years later.

However, I have looked at a recent briefing paper from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, and I doubt the progress and success of the previous legislation. I will quote directly from that paper without my glasses. It said:

“Despite its longstanding position as a priority within health policy it remains the case that mental health services do not receive the same degree of focus (or funding) as other disease areas ... Mental health is responsible for”

23 per cent

“of the disease burden”,

but it gets 11 per cent of the budget, and

“The life expectancy of those with severe mental illness is on average 20 years less for men and 15 years less for women”.

It said:

“depression is associated with ... a 50% increased mortality ... a three-fold increased risk of death”

in subsequent years in respect of coronary heart disease, and

“There is a disparity in research spending”,

which particularly applies to schizophrenia. One of the United Kingdom health research funders showed that mental health got 6.5 per cent of total funding, despite 23 per cent of patients suffering from such conditions.

The recent Health and Social Care Act 2012 for England sets parity for mental health and physical health. I would be thrilled to bits if that were the case in the Scottish Parliament. I hope that it will be.

We—especially Richard Simpson and others—have often spoken about dual diagnosis. We have spoken about people with mental health and drug and alcohol addiction issues. We know that many people use alcohol and drugs as self-medication to mask and cope with mental health issues. That is in the paper from the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

The paper talks about services for older people and dementia. It says:

“Access to psychological”

and other services

“is much poorer for older people”.

The RCP makes plenty more points in its briefing. It is still

“concerned at the lack of Adolescent Intensive Psychiatric Care Units in Scotland. Young people with a need for this are required to be admitted to an adult ICPU.”

It also mentions the consultant vacancies in psychiatry, although I appreciate that psychiatrists are not the only specialists. It is disappointing to read about all the issues that are raised in the royal college’s paper given that they were also raised 11 years ago when the Parliament passed mental health legislation.

Other members have mentioned their experiences of trying to help constituents to find support, particularly in relation to personality disorders. The time taken to diagnose such conditions and the transition from child to adult services, which needs to be looked at, are poor.



Meeting of the Parliament 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Mary Scanlon

I have overstepped my time, so I will leave it there. I am pleased to have had the opportunity to speak and I thank Linda Fabiani for securing the debate.

17:55  

Meeting of the Parliament 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Mary Scanlon

I remember the days on the Health and Sport Committee when Mr Matheson was not a minister.

I said that progress is disappointing, but it would be absolutely wrong to say that there has been no progress. I can remember the days when waiting times were years, rather than months and weeks. However, everything that I mentioned today about the lack of progress came from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, which has been very vocal on the issue during consideration of new mental health legislation.

I did not have time to mention the fact that, although a person can see a mental health specialist within a certain time, the RCP also said that, at June this year, 5,300 children were still waiting to access treatment in the service. That causes concern.



Public Audit Committee 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Mary Scanlon (Highlands and Islands) (Con)

We are looking at the Audit Scotland report on accident and emergency services today. We could not ask Audit Scotland what was happening with the Scottish Ambulance Service and NHS 24, and why two out of three people presenting at accident and emergency self-refer, but I feel that we can ask you.

The overall increase in the number of patients over the past four years is 50,000. However, if we drill down slightly, we see that at Ninewells hospital the number is down by 46,000, while in Aberdeen it is up by nearly 63,000. The number for Edinburgh is up by 112,000 and for Glasgow it is up by 85,000.

What are you doing to find out why there is a huge increase in self-referral? My point is that we no longer have an accident and emergency service—we have a 24/7 open door to the NHS. Patients are—quite rightly—now saying, “This is where I choose to go”, perhaps because they are getting from one service what they are not getting elsewhere.

If that continues at the same rate, we will no longer have an accident and emergency service. It seems that GPs are doing less and less, and patients are voting with their feet to go to A and E. What are you doing about NHS 24, GP referral and the two thirds—66 per cent—of patients in A and E who are self-referring? Is the service really an accident and emergency service any more?

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

 
NoDefeated

 
YesDefeated

 
NoCarried

S4M-11304.3 Michael Russell: Addressing the Attainment Gap in Scottish Schools—As an amendment to mo
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NoCarried

S4M-11304 Liz Smith: Addressing the Attainment Gap in Scottish Schools—That the Parliament believes
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NoCarried

S4M-11123 Joe FitzPatrick on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau: Business Motion—That the Parliament
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Not VotedCarried

S4M-11114.2 Kenny MacAskill: Policing—As an amendment to motion S4M-11114 in the name of Graeme Pear
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Not VotedCarried

S4M-11114 Graeme Pearson: Policing—That the Parliament acknowledges that policing in Scotland contin
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Not VotedCarried

S4M-11116.1.1 Patrick Harvie: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to amendment S4M-11116.1 in the name
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Not VotedCarried

S4M-11116.1 Nicola Sturgeon: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to motion S4M-11116 in the name of Jo
>> Show more
Not VotedCarried

Search for other Motions lodged by Mary Scanlon
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11327: Mary Scanlon, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 28/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11326: Mary Scanlon, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 28/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11145: Mary Scanlon, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 08/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10829.2: Mary Scanlon, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 19/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10735: Mary Scanlon, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 05/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10716: Mary Scanlon, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 04/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10471: Mary Scanlon, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 24/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10395: Mary Scanlon, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 19/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10131.2: Mary Scanlon, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 27/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09376.1: Mary Scanlon, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 18/03/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Mary Scanlon
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4W-22954: Mary Scanlon, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 30/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03648: Mary Scanlon, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 27/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22721: Mary Scanlon, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 03/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22591: Mary Scanlon, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 24/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22592: Mary Scanlon, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 24/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03520: Mary Scanlon, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 15/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22550: Mary Scanlon, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 06/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22546: Mary Scanlon, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 06/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22545: Mary Scanlon, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 06/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22549: Mary Scanlon, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 06/09/2014 Show Full Question >>

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