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23 September 2003

Stevenson Raises Dentistry Provision In Parliamentary Debate

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament’s debate on ‘Improving Scotland’s Health’, local MSP Stewart Stevenson raised the issue of NHS dentistry provision with the Scottish Executive.

Mr Stevenson said:

“I will focus on dentistry, about which one or two members talked and in which I have a special interest. Manchester has one dentist for approximately every 1,000 people and Edinburgh has one for every 2,000, but rural north-east Scotland and the Highlands and Islands have one dentist for approximately every 4,000. That shortage means that lists for NHS patients are all but closed in the dental service. In some towns, even private dentists cannot take new patients.

“What does the Government know about the dental service? Does an NHS dental service exist at all?

“I have asked a series of parliamentary questions about the dental service. In question S2W-2355, I asked how much NHS dentists earn. The Government does not know. In question S2W-626, I asked how long people must wait to join a dentist's list. The Government does not know. In question S2W-625, I asked how many people are on a waiting list to join a dentist's list. The Government does not know. In question S2W-2356, I asked how many foreign dentists are working temporarily in the NHS. The Government does not know. In question S2W-2352, I asked how far patients must travel for NHS dental treatment. The Government does not know. The most astonishing answer is to question S2W-2353, which asked how many dentists are working in the NHS. The Government does not know.

“The golden hello scheme was designed to bring more dentists into the health service and pays up to £10,000 for three years in some circumstances. The scheme has been such a success that six golden hellos have been approved. One golden hello has been given in Forth Valley NHS Board's area, two have been given in Lothian NHS Board's area, and the initiative has also been used in the Greater Glasgow NHS Board and Dumfries and Galloway NHS Board areas. However, no golden hellos have been received in Grampian NHS Board's area or Highland NHS Board's area, where the greatest pressure is felt. Do national dental services exist?

“That situation affects not only dentistry. Scotland has 50 GP vacancies. Despite health board efforts and additional funding, will our remoter communities find themselves in a similar position in which we do not have the people to do the job and services cannot be delivered?

“Ministers should think about social conditions. People who are captured by tobacco or other drug addictions will continue to suffer at the hands of those who exploit their compelling needs. Alcohol abusers will continue to suffer and to inflict suffering on others.

“The Parliament has the power to empower patients and practitioners and to provide funds that can liberate our health service from the dead hand of overcontrol. Indeed, that is the consistent message that my colleagues and I constantly receive.

“Although we can get better on the money that has been provided, we can get more for that money if we moved a little bit away from PFI. However, we need a successful economy in a successful country before we can solve the deep-seated problems that underlie the health service and so much else in Scotland. That means being a normal, independent country.”

Local MSP Welcomes Latest Local Lottery Grants

Banff and Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed the announcement of the latest round of lottery awards, which will see several local organisations benefiting involved in the area of community, arts, heritage, sport, health, education and environment.

Commenting on the awards, Mr Stevenson said:

“I welcome the news that many local organisations are to benefit from the recent dispersal of local lottery awards. Such awards can make all the difference between an organisation surviving and providing an invaluable public service and not being financially viable to continue at all.

“However, although this is good news for Banff and Buchan, I shall continue in my quest to ensure that the North-east receives its fair share of lottery cash. It is imperative that all is done to ensure that funding is secured for this local area.

“Once again, I give my congratulations to those organisations which have been successful this time round. Also, I would urge any local organisation that hasn’t, as yet, made an application for lottery money to do so. And to any organisation who have been unsuccessful in the past, my advice is not to give up trying as several of our largest awards were made on the third or fourth attempt and I am always willing to support local groups in their applications.”

Stevenson Slams Executive Over NHS Waiting Time Figures

Banff and Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has slammed the Scottish Executive on the latest NHS figures concerning waiting times for outpatients. Mr Stevenson carried out research in the areas of outpatient waiting times and also the increase in outpatient waiting times.

Commenting on these figures, Mr Stevenson said:

“As a result of researching the area of waiting times for outpatients I was dismayed to discover that Grampian is in the top three NHS Boards for areas that have the highest waiting times. I find it staggering that the waiting time equates to approximately 55 days, just short of two months. This is just seven days shorter than the Lanarkshire NHS Board which tops the table at 62 days.

“NHS staff do a tremendous job and are working under enormous pressures, providing care to a very high standard. I meet regularly with GPs, consultants and nursing staff and I know that they are doing the best they possibly can.

“This is just another example of the total failure of the Scottish Executive in their aim to improve Scotland’s record on health. These latest figures are by no means acceptable and more must be done to make sure that the trend of increasing waiting times does not continue. The Government must now take action and ensure that the area of health is viewed as a priority and must not be allowed to drag their feet on this vital issue.”

MSP Tours Local Nature Reserve

Local SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson toured the RSPB Loch of Strathbeg Nature Reserve yesterday with wardens Peter Webster and Scott Paterson.

The MSP was invited by the RSPB to visit the reserve and see at first hand the conservation work carried out there.

Speaking after his visit, Mr Stevenson said:

“Loch of Strathbeg is an important site for birds and other wildlife and is increasingly popular with visitors with a staggering 12,000 people visiting it each year.

“A new hide has recently been opened and affords fantastic views of the thousands of pink-footed geese which are arriving daily from Iceland.

“The visitor centre completes the set up with a range of informative displays and I was particularly pleased to hear that the reserve proves especially popular with parties of schoolchildren.

“Loch of Strathbeg Reserve is an excellent visitor atraction and the staff there are clearly very committed to conservation and enjoy very good relations with their neighbours and the local community.”

19 September 2003

MSP Welcomes Peterhead Prison Investment

Banff and Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has today welcomed confirmation from the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) that contracts have now been signed for the installation of electric power in cells at HMP Peterhead. Work on the contract, valued at approximately £900,000, will begin immediately, and is anticipated to be complete by the end of summer 2004.

Commenting on the news, Mr Stevenson said:

“After all the delay, I am pleased that the SPS management seem to have finally got their act together and that works can now get underway. The installation of power in cells is clearly long-overdue, and this investment represents the first important step in bringing the fabric of Peterhead Prison up to a standard which befits one of the world’s leading centres for the treatment of sex offenders.

“The SPS must now turn its attention to addressing the issue of providing night access to toilets for prisoners, and I will be looking to see progress on this matter as quickly as possible.”

2 September 2003

Stevenson Urges Local Contractors To Meet heating Programme Demands

Banff and Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has urged local electrical contractors to make certain that the benefit of the Scottish Executive’s grant programmes managed by Eaga Partnership Ltd is kept locally. Mr Stevenson has discovered that there is an urgent need for local businesses to state their interest for the contracts.

Commenting on the issue, Mr Stevenson said:

“The number of heating systems installed this year under the government funded scheme throughout Scotland has increased dramatically and I am determined that local businesses should take advantage of this and get the benefit.

“I was saddened to hear that if no local contractors can be found, then fitters from Central Scotland and further afield will be brought in. I therefore urge local contractors to state their interest for the contracts and put an end to the Central Belt bias that we see all too often.

“Any local business who may wish to tender for this government programme should contact my constituency office at 17 Maiden Street, Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, AB42 1EE or by phone (01779) 470444 and I will be happy to forward them contact details for them to express their interest in tendering. However, interested contractors must act quickly as the deadline is Monday 8th September 2003”.
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