Tracker: Health

by Jan 16, 2012 No Comments

FMQs

11.01.12: Breast implants

Scotland’s NHS will “step in” and make sure that no woman is left without support, First Minister Alex Salmond said in reply to questions about what measures are in place to support women affected by the PIP silicon breast implant scare.

When asked for the Scottish Government’s most recent estimate of the number of women in Scotland who have received breast implants manufactured by PIP, Salmond replied: “There is no record of PIP silicon breast implants having been used by NHS Scotland. But NHS boards are doing thorough checks to make absolutely sure they have confirmation of this.

The Scottish Government doesn’t hold information about numbers of Scottish women who could have received PIP implants in the independent healthcare sector in Scotland, or indeed elsewhere.

However, my officials estimate the number of Scottish women who may have these implants is in the region of 2,500 to perhaps 4,000 women, although this estimate does not include women who may have travelled outwith the UK to receive an implant.” Salmond went on to say that he understood this will be an “extraordinarily worrying time” for women who have had breast implants, and so said that is why arrangements have been made for the NHS Inform helpline and website to provide additional support.

He added: “If any woman is concerned about PIP silicon breast implants they should seek advice from their general practitioner, or indeed the clinic that has performed the implant.” Baillie thanked the First Minister for his “helpful” response. However, she pointed out that many private clinics are “refusing to accept any responsibility and are intent on charging thousands of pounds for the removal of these implants.” She asked the FM how he will ensure that private clinics meet their responsibility to their patients, adding that they “shouldn’t be let off the hook in this regard.” However, in the event they can’t do so, she asked what safety net the NHS will provide for these women.

“We expect private providers to offer the same level of service to their patients without cost,” Salmond replied.

“In cases where a private provider no longer exists or won’t provide the service, we won’t leave any woman in Scotland without support. The National Health Service will step in. The assumption will be that this will only cover the removal of implants.

However, if the clinical opinion is that replacement is required, and that is what the woman wants, it also would be covered by our National Health Service.”

 

Committee

10.01.12: Alcohol

The debate on minimum pricing was reopened in the Scottish Parliament as the Health and Sport Committee held its first oral evidence session on the Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Bill.

A panel of witnesses including: Professor Anne Ludbrook, professor of health economics at the University of Aberdeen; Benjamin Williamson, senior economist at the Centre for Economics and Business Research; Dr Evelyn Gillan, chief executive, Alcohol Focus Scotland, Dr Jan Gill, reader at Queen Margaret University, and Dr Peter Rice, chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland all gave evidence on the Bill.

Rice told members he believes that minimum pricing “represents our best realistic prospect of fairly quickly changing something that has blighted Scotland’s health for far too long.” However, Williamson said that after “exhaustive” analysis of the University of Sheffield’s report, the centre believes that the case for minimum pricing remains unproven and the measure is “too broad” to tackle the specific issue of problem drinking.

“We do not think that it is a targeted measure that gets to grips with the problems of harmful drinking; in fact, our research shows that moderate drinkers are likely to be impacted the most because they are the most responsive to price.” However, Ludbrook requested that the debate retained a public health focus.

“Nobody suggests that minimum pricing is the only measure that should be pursued. It is important to keep getting the public health message out. There has been good positive coverage recently about the advice on alcoholfree days that has been promoted in Scotland.

“I will turn the message around. The public think that the messages that we promote about the health harms of alcohol are not serious if the Government allows it to be sold at 15p a unit.

There is a cultural mismatch between saying that alcohol has a health harm – and it is a health harm – to everyone if they do not consider their drinking – and that it is OK to sell alcohol at very low prices.” When asked to consider at what level the price should be set, Rice responded that it was a political decision but that in his view, “the higher the price the better”. However, he stressed that “the mechanism is more important than the absolute price.”

He said: “I suggest that we start somewhere around 50p to 60p and that we have a good, well-informed and responsive system, which changes the price twice a year. That would not be an undue burden to place on an industry that changes its prices all the time for its own reasons. That is what I would like to see.”

Written question

10.01.12: Home births

Tavish Scott (LD): To ask the Scottish Executive what action the NHS takes to ensure that there is sufficient support to facilitate home births for all who want them.

Public Health Minister Michael Matheson replied: “NHS boards are responsible for determining maternity services, including those for home births, to meet the needs of the populations for which they are responsible.

These are developed in the context of their own service strategies, provided these strategies are consistent with national policy and guidance.

“The Scottish Government’s Refreshed Framework for Maternity Care outlines the services we expect to be in place for women and babies in NHS Scotland, including the option of home birth, and we expect NHS boards to ensure that capacity stays in line with demand.”

Events diary

16 January

Art in Hospital exhibition Garden Lobby

17 January

Health and Sport Committee meeting Committee Room 6, 09.00

19 January

M.E. Cross-Party Group meeting Committee Room 4, 13.00

25 January

Wellbeing in Sexual Health (WISH) National Conference Virtual conference

8 February

Muscular Dystrophy Cross-Party Group Committee Room 5, 13.00

29 February eHealth Scotland, a Holyrood magazine event Edinburgh

Katie Mackintosh Katie Mackintosh

Katie is Holyrood magazine's Health Correspondent and has been with the magazine since 2005. She has an MA in Sociology with Gender from Edinburgh University and a post graduate diploma in Journalism from Napier University. Katie has been named PPA Scotland Feature Writer of the Year three times - in 2008, 2009, and again in 2013. She was also shortlisted for magazine writer of the year at the Scottish Press Awards in 2012. An Aberdonian by birth but a Glaswegian by nature, she now lives in Fife with her husband and young...

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