Michael Matheson MSP

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Michael Matheson MSP

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  • Member for: Falkirk West
  • Region: Central Scotland
  • Party: Scottish National Party

Michael is a member of the following Committees:

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

Parliamentary Activities

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Meeting of the Parliament 30 October 2014 : Thursday, October 30, 2014
The Minister for Public Health (Michael Matheson)

In line with the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing’s announcement on 17 June, the acting chief medical officer wrote to all health boards on 20 June requesting that they consider suspending transvaginal mesh implant procedures.



Meeting of the Parliament 30 October 2014 : Thursday, October 30, 2014
Michael Matheson

I do not think that it is appropriate to question whether the cabinet secretary’s request to suspend the use of this particular mesh is genuine. The cabinet secretary spoke in the strongest possible terms about the potential for suspending these types of procedures. However, the member will also be aware that there will be individual circumstances where clinicians, in consultation with the women involved, will consider all the potential risk factors and potential complications and the women themselves may choose to go ahead with the procedure. We should allow women who wish to make that decision to do so.

The deputy chief medical officer’s letter was in relation to a different procedure. It came about as a result of a request from clinicians about a new procedure that they were looking to undertake, and about encouraging women to take part in clinical trials in order to improve that procedure for the women concerned.

It is rather disingenuous of the member to try to suggest that the cabinet secretary has been other than committed to trying to address this dreadful issue.



Meeting of the Parliament 30 October 2014 : Thursday, October 30, 2014
The Minister for Public Health (Michael Matheson)

I, like other members, congratulate Jackson Carlaw on bringing the debate to the chamber and offer my congratulations to the first responder team in Neilston and Uplawmoor for their tremendous work.

As Jackson Carlaw said, the team has significantly surpassed its 100th emergency call-out and is now at 147 call-outs, which is remarkable given that it has been operating in the area only for a relatively short time, since January this year.

As members have acknowledged, there is a range of medical conditions in which time is absolutely of the essence in responding to an individual in the community in order to provide them with the best possible care. With conditions such as cardiac arrest, as we heard from Joan McAlpine, every second counts, which is exactly why community first responder schemes are so important.

I am sure that members recognise that community first responder schemes send out a strong message about the level of community resilience in individual communities in their desire to do the right thing for their own community’s wellbeing. It is important that we support them in undertaking that work.

At present there are more than 127 first responder schemes throughout the country, and more than 1,000 volunteers participating in the programme. There is always an opportunity to introduce more of those teams, and I encourage any community that is considering participating in the programme to do so in the same way that the Neilston and Uplawmoor community has in the past year. If communities are interested in doing that, the Scottish Ambulance Service will be happy to assist them by providing the necessary support to set up a first responder scheme in their local area.

As members will know, the increasing number of community first responder programmes sit within a range of other work that we have undertaken in order to improve community resilience in meeting the healthcare needs of local communities.

Community resuscitation development officers recruit and train community members to provide care. There are public access defibrillators in a range of locations, the provision of which is supported by local training and awareness-raising programmes. We provide first-aid awareness and training through schools and in the community at large. Of course, there is also the community first responder programme itself. That all sits within the wider context of ensuring that we improve the health and wellbeing of the people of Scotland.

Members may have noticed that last week I announced that next year we will take forward a strategy to cut the number of deaths from out-of-hospital cardiac arrests, which Joan McAlpine referred to in her speech. We know that survival of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests depends on the chain of survival. We need to make sure that that is as complete as possible, to ensure that people receive resuscitation and defibrillation when a cardiac arrest occurs. Our community first responder teams are an important part of that chain in our local communities and are helping us continue to reduce the number of people who die as a result of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests.

That sits in the wider work that we have been doing to increase the number of publicly available defibrillators. Earlier this year the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing provided a further £100,000 to increase the number of publicly available defibrillators and in August I launched the roll-out of defibrillators to independent dental practices across Scotland. Defibrillators are a crucial piece of kit that quite literally save lives and they are being mapped on the Scottish Ambulance Service’s control system. That means that if an emergency occurs near a dental practice, a work place, a local shop or—as increasingly is the case—a supermarket, people can be tasked to deploy that piece of kit. That has involved some £600,000 of investment and 815 dental practices have signed up to the programme.

That funding sits alongside the work that we are doing with the British Heart Foundation’s heartstart programme in our schools. Almost 62 per cent of our secondary schools have now registered with the heartstart programme and 150 teachers are being trained as heartstart instructors. The heartstart programme is about building resilience in our communities and the community first responder scheme is an important element of that.

I do not underestimate the value of the community first responder schemes. As Hugh Henry rightly said, it is not a replacement for paramedics in our ambulance service; it is an additional support to ensure that individuals who require assistance and care can receive it as early as possible. As a Government we intend to build on that work in the coming years and again I offer my sincere thanks and on-going support to those in the community first responder scheme in Neilston and Uplawmoor.

12:57 Meeting suspended.  14:30 On resuming—  

Meeting of the Parliament 30 October 2014 : Thursday, October 30, 2014
The Minister for Public Health (Michael Matheson)

This has been a useful debate with a number of thoughtful and considered speeches not only on supported business but on the whole issue of employment for disabled people. I do not want to lose sight of the fact that there were more points of agreement than were probably recognised. We need to build on the areas of agreement, but we must also recognise that there are different views on the policy.

I recognise Jenny Marra’s point about making it mandatory for all local authorities to place at least one contract with a supported workshop environment, but we should always be careful in thinking that identifying a simplistic single solution will in some way address the much more fundamental issue of supported employment and workplaces. Although I recognise that she wishes, with the best of intentions, to achieve the best for supported workplaces, we need to proceed in a way that will allow us to create a sustainable approach for successful disabled workplaces. We as a Government have set out why we wish to take the approach that we are taking.

A number of members who have contributed to the debate, such as Bruce Crawford, have highlighted the difficulties that there would be in taking the approach that Jenny Marra outlined. However, I agree with her on her ambition to see modern supported workplaces for disabled people.

Gavin Brown raised the issue of placing contracts with supported employment businesses. That involves a number of complexities, because not all contracts go through the public procurement portal system. Some of them are subcontracts, and there is a range of complexity in monitoring and measuring the contracts that are placed. However, I assure him that we are determined to look at how we can get much greater detail on how and when those contracts are placed and who they are placed by.

I do not want to give the impression that that can be easily achieved, because some of the subcontracting in the process creates complexity, but we and our procurement team intend to look at what can be done through the information technology system to monitor the issue much more effectively. If that monitoring demonstrates to the Government the need for further intervention to work with public contracts and encourage people to place more contracts with supported employers, we will be prepared to do that, as we have done for the past couple of years.



Meeting of the Parliament 30 October 2014 : Thursday, October 30, 2014
Michael Matheson

Not all those contracts were placed through article 19 of the EU procurement directive, for example. Other issues have to be considered to get a proper and fuller picture of the detail.

There is a danger that we are looking at the issue from the wrong perspective. The focus should not be just on awarding public sector contracts to supported employers; it should be on ensuring that supported employers succeed in gaining contracts not just from the public sector but from the private sector in a way that allows them to be ambitious and to produce goods that they can take to market, so that they can be sustainable businesses. We as a Government are determined to take that approach.

I will give an example of how we are taking that approach forward. My colleague Bruce Crawford referred to the changes that have happened in Stirling. The Remploy business there is moving to Larbert in my constituency in order to take on new work in a modern and sophisticated environment. Some £1.7 million of Scottish Government investment has been put into it to support it to become a successful business, market its goods successfully and train people who work with it in a way that will allow them to remain in employment there or to move on in employment.

That partnership in Larbert demonstrates the approach that allows the issue to be taken forward in a sustainable and successful way. The partnership involves the Scottish Government, Haven Products, Scottish Enterprise and Falkirk Council. I have no doubt that that will continue to be a success and that it will build on the £1.5 million per annum contract that it has with the NHS in Scotland.

Maureen Watt described how Blindcraft in her constituency has moved on from the difficulty that it was in several years ago and how it has turned the business around to make it sustainable and potentially successful.

Gavin Brown and other members asked whether the money should be taken away from individuals and put back into supported businesses, but that is not how we should look at the matter. The two approaches are not mutually exclusive. Business support for disabled people is just as important as supported employment is.

The problem with the UK Government’s approach was that the support that was provided had to go to supported employment with an employer, but supported workplaces were not of value. It was a case of one or the other. As Bruce Crawford rightly highlighted, we now find ourselves in a situation in which 1,500 people who were employed by Remploy are no longer in employment and are receiving benefit to support them because of the difficulties that they face.

Had the UK Government taken a different approach that recognised that supported employment is important but that business employment support for disabled people is of equal value, we could have found ourselves in an entirely different situation. The problem is that the UK Government has taken a one-size-fits-all approach, which does not work in this area.



Meeting of the Parliament 30 October 2014 : Thursday, October 30, 2014
Michael Matheson

The Sayce review was not about doing one thing and ruling out the other, but that is the problem with the UK Government’s approach. It has chosen to interpret the Sayce review in such a way that it has decided that it does not value supported work placements. That is why it has run into such difficulty, and it is why two thirds of those who were previously employed by Remploy now find themselves unemployed.

It is important that we put the issue in some context, as Maureen Watt did. From April to June this year, the employment rate for disabled people in Scotland was 43.3 per cent, whereas it was 80.6 per cent for non-disabled people. In the same period, the unemployment rate was 14.6 per cent for disabled people and 5.5 per cent for non-disabled people. The lack of employment opportunity causes the gap in people’s relative income and that gap causes the inequality that so many disabled people experience. They suffer a loss of self-esteem and confidence and find themselves caught in the benefits trap. That is why we need to take a balanced approach that involves supporting not only individuals who want supported employment but businesses that can help to support disabled people who seek employment.

I want to highlight other issues. The Government’s approach is much more ambitious than the approach that Jenny Marra proposes, whereby each public body would place one contract with a supported business. Our approach is to create equality of opportunity for disabled people so that they can get employment regardless of their circumstances. Siobhan McMahon made an extremely good speech in which she highlighted a number of those issues. Some of the points that she raised are being taken forward by the Scottish Government in our youth support strategy. Skills Development Scotland is looking at how we can increase the number of young people with a disability who can participate in our apprenticeship scheme. In addition, Remploy employment services and Barnardo’s are working with Skills Development Scotland to look at how we can enable more disabled people to engage in employment.

Beyond that, we have set out a range of measures to help people with a disability into employment through our national learning disability strategy “The keys to life”, our mental health strategy and our autism strategy, and we will continue to develop positive policies to support disabled people. The debate has been useful and I assure Parliament that, as a Government, we will continue to do everything that we can to support disabled people to have an equal opportunity to gain employment in Scotland.



Meeting of the Parliament 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
The Minister for Public Health (Michael Matheson)

As others have done, I begin by congratulating Linda Fabiani on securing time for tonight’s debate to recognise world mental health day, which was a few weeks ago.

I welcome the fact that we are having a debate on mental health. Several members, including Liam McArthur, mentioned that we have had regular debates on mental health issues. Although there is often a lot of focus on the services that are provided by the statutory sector, and our health service in particular, a tremendous amount of work to support individuals with mental illness is undertaken by third sector organisations, including Support in Mind Scotland and the volunteers in its East Kilbride support group, to whom Linda Fabiani referred. Part of the work that the Government does is to support organisations such as Support in Mind. At present, we are providing it with financial support over three years to 2017 to help it to deliver our shared objective of improving the wellbeing and quality of life of people who are affected by mental illness.

The challenge is clear. Mental illness is one of the top public health challenges in Europe. It is estimated that mental health disorders affect more than a third of the population every year, and people with mental disorders have a much higher mortality rate than the general population—on average, they die more than 10 years earlier, as Malcolm Chisholm said. That is why mental health is one of the Scottish Government’s clinical priorities. Our priorities in this area are being taken forward as part of our mental health strategy, which sets out 36 commitments. Within the sector, there is broad consensus that the approach that is set out in the mental health strategy is the right one, which will help to deliver the further improvements in services that we all want to be made consistently.

I am keen for further progress to be made on reducing the variation in availability of services and on increasing the pace of change in the delivery of quality mental health services for those who need them. It might be helpful if I outline to members some of the progress that is being made in delivering the commitments that are set out in the mental health strategy.



Meeting of the Parliament 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Michael Matheson

Let me come to that point slightly later on when I address some other issues, because I want to go through a couple of the issues around the policy that has been set out in the mental health strategy.

The Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 is probably not the right basis on which to measure the progress that has been made, because the legislation is not there for on-going operational policy purposes. It might be helpful if I set out some of the progress that has been made and turn to some of the points that Mr MacArthur has raised, which I intend to do.

Seven commitments have already been completed and the remainder are well under way or scheduled for work in 2015. Although there is not enough time to cover all the areas, I will go into a few of them. One of them is the issue of tackling stigma and discrimination, which a number of members have made reference to, and the see me campaign, which is Scotland’s anti-stigma and anti-discrimination programme. The programme is hosted on behalf of the Scottish Government by the Scottish Association for Mental Health and the Mental Health Foundation. It was principally focused on stigma, and has been refounded and extended to deal also with discrimination.

In a partnership that we forged with Comic Relief, funding has gone from £1 million a year to £1.5 million a year, which is a significant increase in funding. A key part of refounding the programme is around looking at areas where people have particular experience of stigma and discrimination, including in the workplace and in accessing health and social care services. That is why we are ensuring that the new campaign focuses particularly on those areas.

Linda Fabiani and others raised the issue of the challenge that individuals with mental ill health can experience in being able to gain access to employment. Again, a key commitment on that was set out in the mental health strategy. We have a stakeholders group that is made up of the Scottish Government, the health service, local authorities, the Department for Work and Pensions, the third sector and specialist employment providers. The group is drawing together a report with recommendations for the Scottish Government—“What works for mental health in employability”—in order to look at what further measures we can take to improve employment opportunities for those with mental illness.

I turn to a point that was raised by Linda Fabiani around children and adolescent mental health services and pick up on a particular point that Mary Scanlon made about what she feels is a lack of improvement in CAMH services. She was on the Health and Sport Committee with me in the previous parliamentary session when we investigated access to CAMH services. At that point, we found that there were significant deficiencies in accessing those services.

So, what has happened since 2008? We have set the health improvement, efficiency and access to treatment target for faster access to CAMH services at 18 weeks, which will apply as of December this year. We have seen over the past couple of years a significant increase in referrals and in the numbers of individuals who are being treated. We see average waiting times for CAMH services across the country being between eight and 10 weeks, which is a significant improvement since the inquiry that the Health and Sport Committee undertook. We have also seen significant financial investment: since 2009 an additional £13.5 million has been invested in CAMH services. That has also resulted in a 45 per cent increase in the CAMH services workforce. One of the things that the Health and Sport Committee identified was a lack of staff in CAMH services.

That is not to say that everything is right and that we do not have in some areas waiting times that are still far too long. However, what we are seeing is a general improvement. We want to make sure that we build on that level of improvement and take it further.

We have also applied the 18-week waiting time to access to psychological therapies. The reason why we have set that waiting time target for psychological therapies, which comes into force this December, is to create parity with physical services in a way that has not been done anywhere else in the UK. Having something in a bit of legislation does not result in parity; parity is achieved by the policy that is delivered on the ground, and Scotland is the only part of the UK so far that has set a target for accessing mental health services that is equal to the target for accessing physical health services.



Meeting of the Parliament 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Michael Matheson

As I said, I do not want to give the impression that everything is as good as we wish it to be, but we are involved in a process of improving services. We want to maintain that, and that is what the mental health strategy sets out. However, it would be wrong to give the impression that no improvement has taken place and that we are not making progress.



Meeting of the Parliament 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Michael Matheson

I turn to the points that Malcolm Chisholm made on life expectancy and poor employment opportunities. I mentioned the commitment in the mental health strategy to try to improve employability and opportunities, and the work that we are doing on that. The mental health strategy also addresses that second point on life expectancy, and we are doing work on that.

I will finish on a point that I think members will find useful. We are going to publish a 10-year review report, which will provide a national picture of mental health services in Scotland from 2003 to 2013, so that we can see where the challenges remain and where progress has been made. We should have that report by the end of this year and will, I hope, publish it early in the new year. I have no doubt that it will help to inform members about the areas where further work needs to be undertaken. I assure members that the issue continues to be a priority for the Scottish Government and that we will continue to build on the progress that we have made in recent years. I welcome the particular interest that so many members show in mental health.

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-11332.2 Jenny Marra: Supported Business—As an amendment to motion S4M-11332 in the name of Fergu
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NoDefeated

S4M-11332.1 Gavin Brown: Supported Business—As an amendment to motion S4M-11332 in the name of Fergu
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-11332 Fergus Ewing: Supported Business—That the Parliament recognises the economic and social va
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-11304.3 Michael Russell: Addressing the Attainment Gap in Scottish Schools—As an amendment to mo
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-11304 Liz Smith: Addressing the Attainment Gap in Scottish Schools—That the Parliament believes
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-11123 Joe FitzPatrick on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau: Business Motion—That the Parliament
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-11114.2 Kenny MacAskill: Policing—As an amendment to motion S4M-11114 in the name of Graeme Pear
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-11114 Graeme Pearson: Policing—That the Parliament acknowledges that policing in Scotland contin
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-11116.1.1 Patrick Harvie: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to amendment S4M-11116.1 in the name
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-11116.1 Nicola Sturgeon: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to motion S4M-11116 in the name of Jo
>> Show more
YesCarried

Search for other Motions lodged by Michael Matheson
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11048: Michael Matheson, Falkirk West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 30/09/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10414: Michael Matheson, Falkirk West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09803: Michael Matheson, Falkirk West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 24/04/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09558.2: Michael Matheson, Falkirk West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 01/04/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09446: Michael Matheson, Falkirk West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 24/03/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09254: Michael Matheson, Falkirk West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 06/03/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08837: Michael Matheson, Falkirk West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 24/01/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08800: Michael Matheson, Falkirk West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 20/01/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-07787: Michael Matheson, Falkirk West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 23/09/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-06995: Michael Matheson, Falkirk West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 13/06/2013 Show Full Motion >>
This Member currently holds a ministerial post. First Minister and Ministers cannot ask the Government questions which is why no recent questions are displaying here. Please use the full search to find details of previous questions by this Member.
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S3W-40158: Michael Matheson, Falkirk West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/03/2011 Show Full Question >>
Question S3W-40152: Michael Matheson, Falkirk West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/03/2011 Show Full Question >>
Question S3W-40160: Michael Matheson, Falkirk West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/03/2011 Show Full Question >>
Question S3W-40159: Michael Matheson, Falkirk West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/03/2011 Show Full Question >>
Question S3W-40154: Michael Matheson, Falkirk West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/03/2011 Show Full Question >>
Question S3W-40157: Michael Matheson, Falkirk West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/03/2011 Show Full Question >>
Question S3W-40156: Michael Matheson, Falkirk West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/03/2011 Show Full Question >>
Question S3W-40155: Michael Matheson, Falkirk West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/03/2011 Show Full Question >>
Question S3W-39739: Michael Matheson, Falkirk West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 21/02/2011 Show Full Question >>
Question S3W-39064: Michael Matheson, Falkirk West, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 26/01/2011 Show Full Question >>

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