Official interference

Written by Tom Freeman on 7 July 2017

There was an interesting exclusive in The Times this morning which revealed Audit Scotland had been put under pressure to tone down the "alarmist" tone of its report last year on the financial state of the NHS in Scotland.

"This is the behaviour of a control freak SNP Government rattled by its own shortcomings," Conservative health spokesman Miles Briggs said.

Education committee will look at colleges

Written by Tom Freeman on 1 February 2017

Today's Education and Skills Committee meeting may have only been a little over eight minutes long but it was interesting nonetheless.

In it MSPs considered how they would take forward the work of last term's committee, who made a number of recommendations for ongoing scrutiny. These include the implementation of provisions for Gaelic language and children in care. 

Scottish Health Council - the "toothless hamster"

Written by Tom Freeman on 27 January 2017

The Scottish Health Council had a torrid time in front of MSPs this week. Director Richard Norris and chair Pam Whittle attended the Health and Sport committee meeting and found themselves defending the role of the body, which sits in Healthcare Improvement Scotland.

Reluctant support for council tax changes

Written by Jenni Davidson on 4 November 2016

MSPs yesterday voted through the Scottish Government's plans to increase council tax on bands E-H from April 2017 yesterday.

This is estimated to bring a total of £100m more to local government, although discussion about how extra money will be allocated to closing the attainment gap are still ongoing, with an equivalent amount of money likely to be taken out of the Scottish Government's grant to council's to be put directly towards improving educational attainment.

It's about the money - Audit Scotland and the NHS

Written by Tom Freeman on 28 October 2016

Opposition parties understandably jumped the on the latest Audit Scotland report on the NHS in Scotland, which said spending had become so tight in health boards many may struggle to break even.

It isn't the first time the country's spending watchdog has warned services are not being redesigned at a pace to match government ambitions while demand is far outstripping budget.

Improvements or cuts? Restructuring of the NHS can't be done on the cheap

Written by Tom Freeman on 30 September 2016

The SNP lost its second vote in the chamber since losing its overall majority this week.

The debate was on local cuts to NHS services. It was a Labour motion. 

Health board moves to consolidate services and beds are being resisted by people, and Labour brought it to the parliament, calling for the decisions to be defined as 'major service changes', meaning they would need the approval of ministers.


Mental health's waiting game

Written by Tom Freeman on 9 September 2016

News this week that 934 children had contacted Childline last year because they were contemplating suicide was sobering, to say the least. 

It followed statistics showing a rise in the number of children and young people accessing mental health services.

Teachers say they need more than curricular guidance

Written by Tom Freeman on 31 August 2016

Today sees the first meeting of the Scottish Government's international panel of advisers on education, with the ears of star educationalists such as Australian Professor Alma Harris and Finnish guru Dr Pasi Sahlberg being bent to advise on policy strategy going forward.

Edinburgh College cannot be allowed to fail

Written by Tom Freeman on 27 July 2016

Edinburgh College - credit Jisc

There have been further concerns this week about the future of Edinburgh College, the largest of Scotland's merged FE institutions.

The Scottish Funding Council have produced a report highlighting the college's £5m deficit and a falling number of students finishing their studies. 

Parents excluded from probes into baby deaths

Written by Tom Freeman on 10 June 2016

Too many NHS investigations into baby deaths or brain damage are of ‘poor quality’, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has warned.

In a preliminary report for its UK-wide ‘Each Baby Counts’ inquiry, the professional organisation found around a quarter of NHS investigations were “poor quality” while nearly three-quarters of cases did not involve the child’s parents in a meaningful way.

The aim is to halve the number of babies who die or are left disabled by 2020.