Maureen Watt MSP

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Maureen Watt MSP

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  • Member for: Aberdeen South and North Kincardine
  • Region: North East Scotland
  • Party: Scottish National Party

Maureen is a member of the following Committees:

Maureen is a member of the following Cross-Party Groups:

Parliamentary Activities

Member of the Conveners Group

Search for other Speeches made by Maureen Watt

Meeting of the Parliament 15 January 2015 : Thursday, January 15, 2015
The Minister for Public Health (Maureen Watt)

As background, the Committee on Toxicity published a statement on organophosphates on 13 March 2014 following a comprehensive systematic review of peer-reviewed research on exposure to organophosphates that was published up to September 2013. The review concluded that exposure to organophosphates does not cause significant long-term neurological toxicity in adults. The review took account of extensive research in peer-reviewed journals on the use of organophosphates by those in the agricultural sector and their exposure to them. It appears that independent scientific evidence over many years, including the latest independent statement, which was published this year, has identified no risk to human health from the appropriate use of organophosphates in sheep dip.

To date, the Scottish Government has not had discussions with the UK Government on the issue. However, I would be willing to raise it with my counterpart in the UK Government if substantive new evidence emerged.



Meeting of the Parliament 15 January 2015 : Thursday, January 15, 2015
Maureen Watt

As a farmer’s daughter, I am well aware of the calls. The issue of the impact of organophosphates on health is complicated and controversial. I understand that there are calls for that down south. As I have said, I am happy to meet the member and indeed other members who may have constituents who believe that they have been adversely affected by organophosphates.



Meeting of the Parliament 15 January 2015 : Thursday, January 15, 2015
The Minister for Public Health (Maureen Watt)

I welcome the opportunity to close the debate, which has been wide ranging and interesting.

We have all agreed that, without a doubt, our emergency services face tough and difficult situations on a daily basis. I echo what others have said and pass on my gratitude to each and every member of our emergency services, as well as those who volunteer their spare time to help those in need, no matter what the circumstances. At some time in our lives, each and every one of us, or someone we know, will rely on the skills and dedication of emergency service personnel. It is that dedication to deliver those services day in, day out that we commend today.

I echo Elaine Murray’s and Patricia Ferguson’s concern about the recognition of firefighters, which Patricia Ferguson raised in relation to the Stockline incident. I think that public opinion these days is very much in favour of our emergency services. The public recognise that things cannot be fixed immediately in certain situations but that our emergency services are doing their very best. I wish that sometimes the press would reflect that, too.

I agree with Jackson Carlaw’s concern about hoax calls, although the majority of people use our emergency service call lines responsibly. Any malicious calls are taken very seriously, and the Scottish Government fully supports our police and prosecutors, who hold those who are responsible to account. However, I assure Jackson Carlaw that the services make every effort to identify calls that might be linked to mental health issues and to advise the relevant agencies accordingly.

The commitment of our emergency services is shown in the examples that have been shared in the debate of how the men and women who serve in them respond on a daily basis to a wide and diverse range of situations of varying degrees of risk and challenge, some of which may put their lives at risk. It is great that members have recognised a huge variety of volunteers and services. In an emotional speech, Mike MacKenzie mentioned volunteer firefighters and the coastguard. Elaine Murray rightly recognised the people who clear our roads and railways, and Alison McInnes mentioned the engineers on our rail lines.

Hanzala Malik rightly recognised the contribution of the mosques and other faith services. We should acknowledge the Samaritans, the street pastors and the Red Cross. Who can forget the great work that Laurence Whitley of Glasgow cathedral did to support the families after the Clutha crash or what Archbishop Tartaglia did after the bin lorry disaster?

As Dr Simpson acknowledged, Graeme Dey mentioned farmers. As a farmer’s daughter, I have had to help people out of snowdrifts and had to be rescued myself, so it was good that he mentioned them.

We should all remember that, as Rob Gibson mentioned, personal resilience is important. That adds up to community resilience, which is helped—as Stewart Maxwell recognised—by first responders and the availability of defibrillators in our society.

Saving lives and bringing new lives into the world is part of the day-to-day job, which must be daunting as well as sometimes exciting. Keeping Scotland safe must bring a sense of satisfaction that few careers can profess to offer. I encourage Scotland’s young people to consider a career with the emergency services when they review their futures.

Job satisfaction rates from the recent 2014 NHS Scotland staff survey found that 85 per cent of Scottish Ambulance Service staff who answered the survey were happy to go the extra mile at work. I expect such survey results to be typical of all our emergency services, which reinforces the positive attitude that our workforce has and further enhances our trust and confidence in them. It should go without saying that the Scottish Government is equally committed to supporting our emergency services to ensure that they continue to keep the whole of Scotland’s population safe.

We heard earlier that the Scottish Government is the only Government in the UK to provide annual grant funding to its national mountain rescue service. We want to ensure that Scotland’s natural environment and alluring landscape are accessible to those who wish to explore them in the knowledge that help is at hand should the unpredictable climatic conditions result in their getting into difficulty. However, as Jamie McGrigor said, people should still be mindful of the need to be well equipped when they go into the mountains.

In those circumstances, the Scottish Ambulance Service has a range of specialist services that it can deploy, including the national specialist emergency transport and retrieval service—ScotSTAR for short—which was launched in April last year. ScotSTAR is aimed at helping a range of critically ill patients by providing a single specialist integrated service throughout Scotland. Such services are world class and they highlight the fact that Scotland is leading the way in providing services that protect people the length and breadth of the country.

Of course we always want to do more and work together even more effectively. A key area in which we can do more is improving the co-ordination and effectiveness of the response to cardiac arrests. If we do that well, more lives can be saved. The Scottish Government is working with the Scottish Ambulance Service, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Police Scotland, third sector organisations and other stakeholders to develop a new strategy, which is to be launched in the spring, to ensure that the outcomes for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in Scotland are as good as those anywhere in the world.

Presiding Officer, 2014 saw both tragedy and triumph. Our emergency services demonstrated that, whatever the circumstances, they have tried and tested ways of working together to provide a professional, co-ordinated and immediate response to major incidents and events. As was mentioned, we all saw that most recently at the tragic events in George Square on 22 December. Despite what can only be described as the worst circumstances, everyone who helped during the tragedy acted courageously and with compassion. They should be very proud of that. Thankfully, most of us can only imagine how difficult that must have been.

Because of the distressing nature of the work, it is important—as several members mentioned—that emergency service staff are given the space, time and opportunity to look after their own health and wellbeing. The emergency services take their responsibility for staff wellbeing extremely seriously and have programmes in place to provide support. For example, the Scottish Ambulance Service provides formal counselling to all staff as part of its employee counselling service. That service supports staff with information on where to find relevant help, especially following mass casualty incidents.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service works with the Rivers centre in Edinburgh, which offers treatment for trauma-related problems to all fire staff. That is an example of excellent working between our emergency services and NHS boards, and the Scottish Government welcomes and encourages more of such collaborative working. In addition, there are chaplains to support members of the emergency services, and there are chaplains who are trained in dealing with people who have been involved in major incidents.

To enhance that provision, last year the Scottish Government announced that money that was received from the UK Government as a result of London interbank offered rate—LIBOR—fines could be used for wellbeing projects to support staff in all three of the main emergency services, as well as staff in a number of voluntary services.

We should remember that the emergency services excel not only in times of tragedy, but in times of celebration. Our emergency services can be proud of their part in delivering the most successful and safe Commonwealth games, during which 1.2 million tickets were sold and around 690,000 games-related visitors attended events.

We should also acknowledge the many employers who recognise that their employees wish to be volunteers, to be retained firefighters, to crew our lifeboats or to be members of the mountain rescue service by allowing them to take time off to do that work.

I express my gratitude for being given the chance to offer my personal thanks to all staff in the emergency services, both onshore and offshore. We should remember that the emergency services cover our offshore installations, in relation to which there have been a number of incidents. I also thank all those members who expressed their thanks to the emergency services during the debate.

It would not be appropriate for the Government to direct Parliament, but if parliamentary committees wish to hold inquiries in this area, the Government will co-operate. I reassure Hugh Henry, Hanzala Malik and other Labour members that, day in and day out, Government ministers meet representatives of all the emergency services that have been mentioned to ensure that we are delivering the best possible level of service.

We have all been inspired by the stories that we have heard during the debate, and our emergency and voluntary services can be very proud of what they do.



Meeting of the Parliament 14 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 14, 2015
The Minister for Public Health (Maureen Watt)

The heart failure hub has met in a formal capacity twice and has been integral to two learning events, the second of which will take place on 6 February. The national programme of work that the hub is taking forward recognises that heart failure care is critically dependent on heart failure teams, with heart failure nurses being central to that. To that end, we have appointed two heart failure nurses to support the hub’s work and to draw heart failure nurses even more closely into advancing that agenda.



Meeting of the Parliament 14 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Maureen Watt

I am happy to engage with NHS Orkney on the matter. As Liam McArthur said, the board recognises that it does not have a heart failure nurse service, as detailed in the Scottish heart failure nurse forum’s report “Review of Specialist Heart Failure Nurse Services: Scotland 2013”.

However, we should recognise that Orkney has two consultant physicians in post and has recently recruited a third. The care of heart failure patients in Orkney is shared between the physicians who are based at Balfour hospital, who both have previous cardiology experience; NHS Grampian; and the local primary care teams. Orkney does not have a formal heart failure nurse service, but the cardiac specialist nurse, who is a heart failure nurse practitioner, and the hospital pharmacist provide advice to any member of the multidisciplinary team who is caring for a patient with heart failure in Orkney.



Meeting of the Parliament 14 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 14, 2015
The Minister for Public Health (Maureen Watt)

The Scottish Government recognises that lipoedema can be a distressing and painful condition. As with all long-term conditions, we want people who are living with lipoedema to be able to access the best care and support wherever that is possible. The recommendation of any particular treatment is a matter for discussion between a patient and their doctor, and any issues surrounding the provision of a treatment are a matter for the relevant national health service board.



Meeting of the Parliament 14 January 2015 : Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Maureen Watt

I understand that lipoedema can cause many difficulties and can be very painful for people who have it. I am also aware that it can take some time for some patients to receive the correct diagnosis. Increasing awareness of lipoedema is important, and I am pleased to note that the Royal College of General Practitioners launched a lipoedema course for GPs and medics in May 2014, which was developed in partnership with Lipoedema UK.

I recognise the importance of the third sector in providing valuable support to those with lipoedema, and my officials have confirmed that they will update lipoedema charities about possible opportunities for grant applications for 2015-16 under the section 16B scheme.

The Scottish Government is fully committed to providing the people of Scotland with NHS services that meet their needs and maintain high standards of care. Although the Government provides the policy framework and resources for high-quality healthcare, it is for each NHS board to decide how best to deliver services to meet the population’s needs.



Health and Sport Committee 09 December 2014 : Tuesday, December 09, 2014
The Minister for Public Health (Maureen Watt)

Thank you, convener, and thank you for your special welcome. If you do not mind, we would both like to make some brief opening remarks.

I thank the committee for this opportunity, and I look forward to working with you all in my new role. I will seek to set the broader context for this morning’s discussions, and my colleague the Minister for Children and Young People will give the committee more detail about the policies that fall within her portfolio. I have been trying to get up to speed with my new portfolio, but I want to say that I and my colleague feel very strongly about the inquiry’s subject and remit.

Scotland’s health is improving across the piece, and people are generally living longer and healthier lives. However, I am acutely aware that, despite the significant efforts of this and previous Administrations to tackle health inequalities, they remain a blight on our society.

The committee has previously acknowledged the complexities of resolving Scotland’s health inequalities and developing policy solutions that can minimise the impact of the differences in power, wealth and resource that underlie the inequalities in health in our society. Committee members will know that the First Minister has made tackling inequalities one of our stated objectives and we remain determined to address the gap in rates of chronic ill health and premature death that impact on communities throughout the country.

The committee has focused on health inequalities in the early years because that is where society can make the most difference in long-term outcomes. We know that getting it right in the early years—and even pre birth—can have a positive effect on the health and wellbeing of the child and the family. Prevention and early intervention should drive our work and that of our partners.

That is why the Government has had a strong focus on early years right from when it first came into government in 2007. We expect community planning partnerships to have a focus on the early years in their single outcome agreements. Addressing health inequalities in the early years is not a job for the national health service alone; we need all statutory agencies and partners to work with the strength, skill and assets of communities.

We have also focused on developing strong evidence-based policies in the early years that deliver a proportionate or progressive universalism, which we believe will make a difference.

For example, in our work on antenatal inequalities, we have taken on the messages about the need for a universal approach to ensure that we reach all those who are in need of services by focusing on improving access to maternity services. We have developed a robust framework to support maternal and infant nutrition, including breastfeeding, in recognition of the importance of nutrition pre and post birth. We have implemented the family nurse partnership but recognise that it reaches only a specific segment of the population, albeit one that comprises those who are at higher risk of poor outcomes.

There was a clear message from the evidence-taking session with the general practitioners at the deep end group and others that continuity of care and consistency of approach are crucial to reducing health inequalities. All our early years policies strive to achieve that. That is why we have invested significantly in strengthening universal services by increasing the number of health visitors to ensure that all families can access the services that they need through that universal gateway of provision.

However, we also need to be clear that health inequalities cannot be reduced by health interventions and policies alone. They are linked to and derive from the wider inequalities agenda of socioeconomic and welfare policies. As the committee knows, the Government does not yet have all the levers to address those comprehensively and coherently, but that does not mean that we can do nothing, and we must do all we can to address that social imperative.



Health and Sport Committee 09 December 2014 : Tuesday, December 09, 2014
Maureen Watt

I think that it is an inspiring choice. Much of our work is based on equally well, which I was involved with as the Minister for Schools and Skills from 2007 to 2009. Harry Burns was a key member of the task force, which was where I first learned about how early health and the mother’s health pre birth can impact on children’s early years, and how regular feeding and nurturing are so important to the development of children’s brains.



Health and Sport Committee 09 December 2014 : Tuesday, December 09, 2014
Maureen Watt

You highlight a problem with pilots. People get upset if they think that a pilot has been working and we stop it because evaluation has shown that it has not delivered what was expected. That has been a problem across Governments.

Therefore, it is important that evaluation is built into pilots. Where feasible, that could be done in house or it might involve bodies such as universities undertaking self-evaluation. We are trying to improve on the methodology all the time to ensure that we are getting the right data so that we can find out whether pilots work. We also want the people who come to the sessions that we run across the country every now and again to share data and experiences, because that is extremely valuable.

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.
AbstainCarried

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 Maureen Watt
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11826: Maureen Watt, Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 08/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11630: Maureen Watt, Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 20/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11555: Maureen Watt, Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 14/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11407: Maureen Watt, Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11321: Maureen Watt, Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 28/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11258: Maureen Watt, Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 20/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11079: Maureen Watt, Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 02/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11059: Maureen Watt, Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 01/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10794: Maureen Watt, Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 13/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10733: Maureen Watt, Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 05/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
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EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4O-03664: Maureen Watt, Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 05/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03599: Maureen Watt, Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 01/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03511: Maureen Watt, Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4T-00786: Maureen Watt, Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 18/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22342: Maureen Watt, Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 12/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03460: Maureen Watt, Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 06/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03419: Maureen Watt, Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 18/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21330: Maureen Watt, Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 27/05/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03218: Maureen Watt, Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 06/05/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03168: Maureen Watt, Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 23/04/2014 Show Full Question >>

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