31 October 2014

Fresh Leadership at NHS Grampian is a Welcome Step for Patients Says Stevenson

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, has welcomed the change in leadership at NHS Grampian as a way to ensure that the primary focus on patient care is maintained.

Current NHS Education for Scotland Chief Executive Malcolm Wright will take up the post of interim Chief Executive of NHS Grampian following the resignation of outgoing Chief Executive Richard Carey.

Mr Stevenson said:

“Richard Carey has served the NHS for many years and I wish him well with his early retirement.

“The announcement of a change in leadership at NHS Grampian is a welcome step towards resolving some of the tensions that have been allowed to develop within the health board.

“The priority of the NHS must always be the care of patients and I hope that this change in leadership will help to ensure that nothing interferes with that focus."

The NHS Grampian resource budget has increased by over £229 million since the SNP took office, with NHS Grampian’s share of the total territorial health board resource budget rising from 9.1 per cent in 2006/07 to 9.6 per cent in 2015/16.

He added:

“NHS Grampian’s budget has been protected and increased since the SNP took office, with the budget rising by over £229 million in that time - despite a 6.7 per cent real terms cut to Scotland’s resource budget since 2010/11.

“Those resources have helped to deliver progress, but fresh leadership at the health board will help NHS Grampian meet the challenges it faces in the years ahead.

“People in the North East have a right to expect that they are getting the best possible service from NHS Grampian and I am confident that this change in leadership will help to ensure that they get it.”

In 2015/16 NHS Grampian’s resource budget is set to rise by 4.4 per cent to £812.6 million – the largest increase of any health board.

29 October 2014

Stevenson Fights for Moray Schools

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, criticised Conservative proposals to address the attainment gap in Scottish schools today (Wednesday), highlighting the number of schools in Moray that are currently under review.

In a Conservative-led Scottish Parliament debate on Education, Mr Stevenson attacked the Conservative motion being discussed, which promoted “maximum parental choice” and “greater diversity in schools.”

He said:

“In Moray in my constituency, the future of schools in Findochty, Portknockie, Portessie, and Cullen, Rothiemay, Crossroads and Cluny school, and nearby at Portgordon and Newmill are all under review. Milne’s High School in Fochabers is under threat of closure.

“The Tory motion believes in maximum choice – are schools in Moray with good educational attainment being supported by what’s being proposed? No. They are threatened by proposals to close, to merge, to reduce their schools – reducing diversity and reducing choice."

He added:

“No educational case has been made for the changes proposed in Moray – they are not failing schools but those with a good educational record. Nor does the economic case stand any scrutiny.

“As many of these schools are below the 70 pupil level where additional funding trips in, if the schools proposed for closure were to close, Moray would sacrifice a seven figure sum in funding.

“These moves are not justified in diversity, not justified in choice and hardly likely to be justified on economic grounds. Fundamentally there is no indication from the community that they want this change to be made and there was a local march last weekend against some of these proposals.

“Disadvantage comes from economic circumstances – not genetic. Having a situation where children are denied the range of opportunities that they would get in a wealthier environment is not the way forward, and I would ask the Tories to reflect on that.”

The report by Caledonian Economics recommending the proposals for Moray schools will be discussed by local councillors on Monday. SNP councillors plans to oppose the plans for school closures in Moray.

26 October 2014

Plans to Reduce Drink-Driving Limit Welcomed


Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed new plans to reduce the drink-drive limit on Scotland’s roads in time for Christmas – in a move to make Scotland’s roads safer and bring Scotland into line with much of Europe.

Under plans announced by the Scottish Government, the blood alcohol limit in Scotland would be cut from 80mg per 100ml to 50mg per 100ml which brings Scotland into line other European countries including France, Spain and Germany.

Estimates suggest that around one in ten deaths on roads in Scotland involve drivers who are over the legal alcohol limit.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“Drink-driving has been a scourge on Scotland’s roads for too long – leading to completely unnecessary injuries and deaths - devastating families and communities across the country. It is absolutely right that the Scottish Government is to take this decisive action.

“Around one in ten deaths on Scotland’s roads involve drivers who are over the limit – and having even one drink is enough to make you three times as likely to be involved in a fatal car crash.

“That’s why lowering the blood alcohol limit is the right thing to do – making our roads safer, saving lives and preventing more families from having to deal with losing a loved one through drink driving.

“This new limit will send out a clear message that driving after you’ve had a drink is unacceptable – and I hope the rest of the UK follows Scotland’s example on this important issue and comes into line with the rest of Europe.”

Announcing the plans, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said:

“I have said before that I am determined we do everything we can to make our roads safer and save lives. Drink driving shatters families and communities and we must take action to reduce the risk on our roads.

“The latest estimates show that approximately one in ten deaths on Scottish roads involve drivers who are over the legal limit and research shows that even just one alcoholic drink before driving can make you three times as likely to be involved in a fatal car crash. As a result, 20 families every year have to cope with the loss of a loved one and around 760 people are treated for injuries caused by someone who thought it was acceptable to drink alcohol and get behind the wheel and drive. We cannot let this continue.

“That’s why I have introduced legislation to lower the drink drive limit in Scotland so that, subject to parliamentary approval, new laws will be in place in time for the beginning of the festive period.

“This new limit will bring Scotland into line with most of Europe and send a clear message to drivers who continue to ignore the warnings that there is never an excuse to drink and drive.

“Getting behind the wheel after drinking can have fatal consequences, the advice is simple; if you have had any alcoholic drink whatsoever, don’t drive. No one should be drinking and driving and the new lower limit only reinforces what should already be the case with drivers taking full responsibility and not putting lives at risk.”

The move has been welcomed by road safety campaigners.

Sandy Allan, RoSPA’s Road Safety Manager, Scotland said:

“RoSPA welcomes and strongly supports the Scottish Government’s decision to lower the drink-drive limit in Scotland, which we believe will save lives and prevent injuries on Scotland’s roads. There is a considerable body of research which shows that reducing drink-drive limits is effective in reducing drink-drive deaths and injuries. We would like to see the rest of the UK follow Scotland’s example.”
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