Cuts to local hospitals are cuts, not consolidation

Written by Tom Freeman on 29 April 2016

No matter how much health boards try and stay out of elections, even a hint of a hospital closure does tend to feature heavily in them.

This week NHS Fife became the latest health board to have its budget decisions reach the front pages of the newspapers.

A £30.8m gap in the health board's 2016/17 budget will be plugged by cutting hospital beds, according to reports in the local papers.


RCN gives Scottish Tory plan for health visitors a lukewarm response

Written by Tom Freeman on 15 April 2016

Apart from the Scottish Conservatives seeking to underline their commitment to a publicly-owned NHS, health has been largely been out of the limelight in this election campaign so far, which is unusual for a Scottish election. 

Does SNP 'creeping privatisation' claim add up?

Written by Tom Freeman on 4 March 2016

Today the Scottish Conservatives hold their spring conference in Edinburgh, and there's something familiar about the war of words. 

The SNP have repeated the claim that 'creeping privatisation' in the NHS south of the border threatens the budget consequentials for health in Scotland.

“While the Scottish Government is committed to keeping the Scottish NHS in public hands, our budget is still tied to decisions made at Westminster.

Kezia Dugdale on the tension between climate change and oil extraction

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 3 March 2016

Can you claim to oppose climate change while aiming to extract every last drop of oil from the North Sea? With evidence from the International Energy Agency showing that at least two thirds of the world’s remaining fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground to avoid the worst effects of climate change, the SNP has faced criticism in the past for holding two seemingly contradictory opinions.

Time to tax sugar? A momentum grows

Written by Tom Freeman on 22 January 2016

The main story this week is the unexpected explicitness behind Food Standards Scotland's recommendations to the Scottish Government.

Public agencies are not always as forthcoming with calls for bold action, and this one also contained an ultimatum for industry: improve the country's eating habits, or face a sugar tax.

Education bill amended in Dunfermline

Written by Tom Freeman on 9 December 2015

The Education and Culture Committee had two meetings this week, the first of which took place in Dunfermline city chambers. It can be assumed this was arranged before the kingdom of Fife was cut off from Edinburgh due to a bridge closure, but I'm sure the MSPs enjoyed their train journey. 

This allowed the Committee to get through a lot of amendments to the Education bill, which is a complex and multi-faceted piece of legislation, possibly even a bit nebulous.

University governance: devil is in the detail

Written by Tom Freeman on 11 November 2015

Finally it seems we are moving onto a new, more productive, phase in the Scottish Government’s ambitious Higher Education Governance Bill.

Yesterday’s Education and Culture Committee saw Education Secretary Angela Constance concede the proposals would be amended or sections would be removed.

Outrage as minister 'talks out' cheap drugs bill

Written by Tom Freeman on 6 November 2015

The UK Government was faced with outrage from backbenchers today as it killed today's debate on the Off Patent Drugs Bill at Westminster.

The bill, which had been shelved last year after the government said off patent drugs were already available on the NHS across Britain, is designed to allow doctors to prescribe cheaper drugs no longer licensed that have been proven to have additional benefits above their original purpose. 

Skills Development Scotland defends its value

Written by Tom Freeman on 4 November 2015

The last body to be scrutinised by the Education and Culture Committee’s examination of relevant public bodies was Skills Development Scotland.

A recurring theme emerged from yesterday’s session. That is, it is hard to quantify the success of individual budgets when there is so much collaboration going on.

SDS chief executive Damien Yeates conceded positive destinations could equally be down to the good work of schools, while regeneration in the Highlands had been originated in a joint report from SDS and HIE.

Alcohol licensing 'increasingly complex'

Written by Tom Freeman on 29 October 2015

This week saw Labour MSP Dr Richard Simpson’s Alcohol Bill get its second evidence session in front of the Health and Sport Committee.

The purpose of the bill is to introduce further restrictions to licensing, advertising and labelling, including the marking of bottles and cans to show which shop it was bought from.

It is hoped the measures would improve Scotland’s troubled relationship with alcohol. Those who appeared in front of MSPs on Tuesday represented industry, licencing and local authorities, so it may not have been surprising there were some concerns.