Rhoda Grant MSP

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Meeting of the Parliament 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Rhoda Grant (Highlands and Islands) (Lab)

I am glad that the cabinet secretary recognises the specific recruitment challenges in rural areas. He will also be aware that NHS Highland does not receive its full NHS Scotland resource allocation committee funding allocation. He has made money available to the board temporarily, which it must repay. Would it be wise to include that money and thereby ensure that it gets its full allocation, so that it does not remain in the same financial position?



Meeting of the Parliament 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Rhoda Grant (Highlands and Islands) (Lab)

I add my voice to Johann Lamont’s plea to take the politics out of the NHS. Probably one of the lowest points in the referendum campaign was when the SNP suggested that people should vote yes to stop the privatisation of the NHS—even though, all the while, the SNP was itself increasing privatisation.

The NHS is a national treasure. It is one of the few policy areas where cross-party support is guaranteed. We all know that the NHS is creaking at the seams. Should it fail, we all fail. That is why we need a root-and-branch review of the NHS to ensure that it is fit for the 21st century.

We need to include community care in that review. Local authority budget cuts mean that councils are now charging for services that we always thought would be free. If people cannot receive the assistance that they require, they inevitably end up in emergency care. That puts a strain on accident and emergency departments. We now have weekly press stories of doctors warning of the crisis in their A and E departments.

We are also seeing an increase in bedblocking where there is no care available in the community. I recently met with the Crossroads charity in the Western Isles and was told that, if it is to meet its waiting list demand, it would have to double its service provision. However, it does not have the resources—or, indeed, the contracts—to do that.

We need to do something now. This is not a future problem; it is a current crisis in the NHS.

Service cuts have especially impacted on remote rural areas, where it inevitably costs more to deliver services. In Highland, endoscopy patients from Skye now need to travel to Inverness, which is a round trip of more than three hours. Pregnant women in Argyll need to go to Glasgow for ultrasound scans. Depending on family circumstances, that is hard enough when the scan is routine, but how difficult is it if there are complications? That is not shifting the balance of care closer to home; it is asking patients to set out on an expedition to access the care that they require.

While contracts are being issued to the private sector, there is also the creeping privatisation of NHS boards having to put more work to private contractors because they simply cannot cope otherwise. We read press releases about locums being flown in at eye-watering costs because of staff shortages. That is a false economy. We know that private care costs more, as does the reliance on bank and agency nursing.

We need a root-and-branch review of the NHS. We need an NHS that responds to local need, delivers services in a way that is compatible with geography and is designed in conjunction with local people. That is real devolution. We need an NHS that can cope with future pressures while providing compassion, and an NHS that is good enough to attract and retain the best practitioners in the world.

I appeal to the Scottish Government to heed the plea: we owe it to the whole of Scotland to deliver an NHS that is fit for the 21st century.

17:06  

Meeting of the Parliament 08 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Rhoda Grant (Highlands and Islands) (Lab)

I, too, congratulate Jackie Baillie on bringing the debate to the chamber. I think that we all recognise the difficulty of the transition from child to adult services, and we hear about it weekly at the Health and Sport Committee.

It is very difficult for someone with a chronic condition when the help, support and care that they are receiving stops altogether when they move from child to adult services. The situation is even worse for those with life-limiting conditions, for whom every day is precious, and who may have been used to receiving additional support as part of the services that are provided for children. Those services deal with the whole person. They provide routine, education and opportunities for socialisation, and they are family centred to include the whole family and provide a focus and support for everyone, including the young person.

The contrast with adult services could not be more stark. In many places, adult services are almost non-existent. The dream of having days that offer fulfilment and social interaction can never be fulfilled for many people. Opportunities to undertake learning and education, and to gain access to jobs, are also only a dream. Some organisations are very good at providing those opportunities, but we need to do an awful lot more to provide young adults with the life that they want to live. Those lives may be shorter, so they should surely be more fulfilling.

Hospice services for adults are very different from those for children. Adult services tend to be offered at the very end of life rather than providing someone with the ability to live their life. We need to consider the way in which we provide hospice services for young people with life-limiting conditions.

A number of members have mentioned respite care. I have heard from constituents who say that young people’s respite care takes place either at home or in old people’s homes. That is really not appropriate for young people, who need to go out and socialise and meet other people of their own age.

The debate is not about keeping young people within children’s services, but about improving adult services and ensuring that we offer people age-appropriate services. Recently I have been dealing with a number of carers whose children have grown to adulthood, and those carers have huge worries. They are part of an ageing population, and are being asked to do more and more when they are not perhaps at full strength. On the rare occasion when they receive respite, it is often to allow them to deal with family crises. One constituent told me that her annual respite was used to deal with bereavement when she lost her own parent. Another told me that she used the respite to deal with her own illness: her child was taken into respite care to allow her to go into hospital. Part of her recovery supposedly involved rest, but there was no respite. She had to leave hospital to take care of her child, who was now a young person who needed constant care and attention and some heavy lifting.

That is surely not good enough, neither for the carer nor for the young person. We need to do better. I add my voice to those of other members in the chamber to say, “Let’s do something about this.”

18:03  

Health and Sport Committee 07 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 07, 2014
Rhoda Grant (Highlands and Islands) (Lab)

I am a Highlands and Islands MSP.



Health and Sport Committee 07 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 07, 2014
Rhoda Grant

Would there be a benefit in the bill allowing for a period—say five days—when the patient would be informed about the tribunal, so that they would be able to pull together second opinions and reports? The timeframe would not be shortened for the tribunal, but it would be extended for the patient, which would mean that a second tribunal might not be required. Is there merit in thinking about what proportion of time is available to whom?

Does that make sense? I sense that the panel does not understand what I am saying. I am looking at blank faces.

I suppose that what I am saying is that, rather than a patient going to a tribunal and asking for an extension because they need extra time to pull together the reports that they require to represent themselves properly, they should be allowed to do that sooner. The tribunal would need to present them with the paperwork within the five days as currently happens, but rather than go to a tribunal to ask for an extension, they can ask for an extension to gather their papers without having to go to two tribunals.



Health and Sport Committee 02 October 2014 : Thursday, October 02, 2014
Rhoda Grant (Highlands and Islands) (Lab)

In the run-up to the games—and, indeed, during the games—there was an awful lot of talk about the legacy of the games. What do you see as being the main legacy of the games?



Health and Sport Committee 02 October 2014 : Thursday, October 02, 2014
Rhoda Grant

I am grateful for that information; it is very useful to get it on the record.

When we were looking forward to the games, there were thoughts about how you would engage people from local communities, including people who were not in work, in volunteering. The Clyde-siders programme was really successful. I suppose that a lot of people recognised the warmth that came from that community involvement. What steps have been taken to see whether those people can be involved—perhaps for their personal development—in future events rather than, at the end the games, simply saying to them, “That’s it over.”? How do you keep those people engaged and help them to move and build on their success?



Meeting of the Parliament 02 October 2014 : Thursday, October 02, 2014
Rhoda Grant (Highlands and Islands) (Lab)

I join other members of the committee in thanking witnesses, those who facilitated the committee’s visit to Aberdeen, those who submitted evidence and the clerks and committee staff who co-ordinated all that work.

We are supportive of the general principles of the bill and recognise the need for it. We need to have a robust regulatory regime that protects our consumers. As well as protecting consumers, high standards promote our producers and, indeed, our products, as Claire Baker made clear.

We should not be surprised that members have taken the opportunity to talk about their favourite brands, which include some of our iconic brands, such as Scottish salmon and Johnnie Walker whisky. Jayne Baxter mentioned Irn-Bru and Tunnock’s teacakes, and Stewart Stevenson spoke about enjoying a cullen skink Scotch pie, which was a new one on me. That tells us more about the Scottish diet than anything else, but according to the old adage that a little of what you fancy does you good, any pleasure that someone who eats that in moderation gets might offset the detriment, if they are very careful.

That said, it has been a serious debate, in which we have considered the public health role of food standards Scotland. Many members have talked about the Scottish diet and health and obesity in our nation. Mention has been made of the need to address the issue, and the fact that the new body might have a health promotion role has been welcomed. It would have to exercise that role alongside other players in the area, such as the health service and local government. As Jayne Baxter said, we need to ensure that that activity is co-ordinated and that there is no duplication of effort, but given the enormity of the problem that we face, it is important that FSS has such a role.

Richard Simpson talked at some length about the health issues that we face with obesity, diet and portion size. He also talked about his proposed limit on trans fat member’s bill. What a difference that would have made to our diet. We know that cheap food tends to be high in fat and sugar because that improves the taste, but it can also be hugely harmful to health. I think it was Jackson Carlaw who pointed out that sometimes food that is described as healthy because it is low fat is extremely high in sugar. We need to be very careful that that does not have a health consequence. People might think that they are making the right food choices when in fact they are doing more harm than they would have hoped.

Malcolm Chisholm mentioned food poverty, which is an extremely important issue. The existence of food poverty emphasises the need for local authorities to work with FSS and health boards to ensure that people who live in poverty can access good, healthy food, because cheap food tends to be the most unhealthy food. On that topic, Jayne Baxter talked about community food initiatives. The committee’s visit to Aberdeen included a visit to Community Food Initiatives North East. We saw some of the work that it is doing to provide healthy food and to promote healthy food choices; in addition, it operates a food bank.

It is good that the committee went to Aberdeen and the north-east for all the reasons that Lewis Macdonald identified. The area is a centre of excellence for food production, safety and research. Our visit was extremely useful. We met some of the organisations that Lewis Macdonald spoke about at some length in his speech and they made a great contribution to the committee’s deliberations on the bill.

An issue that has not come up as much as it might have done is the funding of the new agency. Nanette Milne mentioned that negotiations are going on with the UK Food Standards Agency regarding the proposed new body in Scotland. It is to be hoped that matters will be resolved and that FSS will get a satisfactory financial settlement. That would be welcomed by everyone in the chamber.

If the new agency is provided with the finance that is currently enjoyed, it will be able to continue with the current role. However, if it is to take on new roles in areas such as public health, more funding must be put in place. The Scottish Government has acknowledged that it would need to provide more funding, but there are no real assurances in that regard in the bill. We need to get those assurances to ensure that any extension of responsibilities is fully funded so that, as Malcolm Chisholm noted, the agency can carry out any extra functions.

Other members, such as Claire Baker, mentioned funding for the local authority role in consumer protection and food safety. Responsibility for those areas falls on local government, but local authority budgets are being tightened. It is not enough for us just to look at the funding for food standards Scotland—we also need to consider the funding for the other organisations that have a lead role in protecting consumers and promoting public health and safety. That includes meat inspectors, who do a good job, as members have mentioned, but who are very thinly spread. If we are going to take food standards seriously, we must ensure that funding goes to those organisations as well as to food standards Scotland, and that the bodies all work together to bring about good outcomes for consumers.

We have heard a lot of talk about the need for robust labelling. As we saw with the horsemeat scandal, it is very easy to put a different, cheaper product into food in order to provide profits for those who produce that food. Roderick Campbell mentioned that none of the affected food was traced back to Scotland, perhaps because we already enjoy a good regulatory and labelling regime that prevents such things from happening. However, we cannot afford to be complacent.

On the committee’s trip to Aberdeen, we visited Joseph Robertson (Aberdeen) Ltd and saw how its food labelling worked, and the efforts that the company made to ensure food security. Any products that could cause an allergic reaction were used towards the end of the week when all the other food had already been produced. There was a huge amount of effort, precision and programming going on to ensure that the labelling was correct, that the food was secure and that the description on the tins matched what was inside. It was a very useful visit.

However, we understand that producers are concerned about food labelling and the need for a compatible regime throughout the UK, so it is good that there is a memorandum of understanding on those issues. That will bring the protection that we want, and the safeguards that the industry wants, to ensure that we can be proud of our products.

There was some discussion about fixed-penalty notices. Having fixed penalties means that lesser infringements can be dealt with quickly and more easily, and that the process is streamlined, which may free up inspectors to go on to the more difficult business. However, I welcome the fact that we are considering an appeals process, because it is very important that people have the right of appeal if a mistake is made, and such a process would put checks and balances in the system. We look forward to seeing what that process will look like as the bill progresses through the Parliament.

There has been discussion about the size of the board, which was an issue that raised some concerns during the committee’s deliberations. As Duncan McNeil said, we have received reassurances from the Scottish Government that the board will be of a size that will allow it to do its job. We must be careful that the board focuses on consumer protection rather than being industry led; there are a lot of concerns in that regard.

That does not mean, as Claire Baker pointed out, that the board cannot have an employee director, which would make a huge difference. The Government welcomed the recommendations of the Mather commission in that respect, and it would be a welcome step forward if the new body was one of the first to implement them. It is very important to have employees involved.



Meeting of the Parliament 02 October 2014 : Thursday, October 02, 2014
Rhoda Grant

Sorry, Presiding Officer—I thought that I had a lot more time, but, as often happens, it has run away.

Partnership working will be at the very forefront of how food standards Scotland operates, and we emphasise that, while agreeing to support the bill and its general principles.

16:49  

Health and Sport Committee 30 September 2014 : Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Rhoda Grant (Highlands and Islands) (Lab)

I will ask a short question on the back of that. You talked about MHOs and the increase in the time that a nurse can detain somebody for before an MHO is present. I cover the Highlands and Islands, which includes many small islands. Is there sufficient time in the legislation for a nurse to detain if there is a shortage of MHOs? How quickly can we physically get someone there?

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

 
YesDefeated

 
NoDefeated

 
YesCarried

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

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

S4M-11123 Joe FitzPatrick on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau: Business Motion—That the Parliament
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NoCarried

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

S4M-11114 Graeme Pearson: Policing—That the Parliament acknowledges that policing in Scotland contin
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NoCarried

S4M-11116.1.1 Patrick Harvie: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to amendment S4M-11116.1 in the name
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NoCarried

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

Search for other Motions lodged by Rhoda Grant
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Motion S4M-11162: Rhoda Grant, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 09/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11161: Rhoda Grant, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 09/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11160: Rhoda Grant, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 09/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11159: Rhoda Grant, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 09/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11053: Rhoda Grant, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 01/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11017: Rhoda Grant, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 26/09/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11016: Rhoda Grant, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 26/09/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11014: Rhoda Grant, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 26/09/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10926: Rhoda Grant, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 03/09/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10925: Rhoda Grant, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 03/09/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Rhoda Grant
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4O-03620: Rhoda Grant, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 20/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22215: Rhoda Grant, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 30/07/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21955: Rhoda Grant, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 26/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21953: Rhoda Grant, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 26/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21954: Rhoda Grant, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 26/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21950: Rhoda Grant, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 26/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21949: Rhoda Grant, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 26/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21948: Rhoda Grant, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 26/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21947: Rhoda Grant, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 26/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21858: Rhoda Grant, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 19/06/2014 Show Full Question >>

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