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28 February 2005

STEVENSON BLASTS GOVERNMENT FOR NHS24 INEFFICIENCIES AT BANFF MEETING

Local MSP Stewart Stevenson will be speaking to an NHS Public Involvement Group in the Banff Springs Hotel, Banff tonight.

Commenting in advance of the meeting Mr Stevenson said,

“The NHS has seen a great deal of change recently, and the government has failed to prepare the service to respond. In particular, with many more contacts between patient and NHS being through NHS24, the lack of proper access to the patient's health records is both dangerous and inefficient.

“A patient's GP practice is where they will be known best and where experienced primary care professionals can rapidly assess patients and respond appropriately. Is it little wonder that patients feel let down by 'diagnosis by telephone' when it is clear that the person at the other end knows little or nothing of their previous medical history. Nurses manning the service, despite being experienced professionals, are suffering the stress of working in an operation bogged down by having to gather information already held elsewhere in the NHS at the expense of rapid, effective patient support.

“In situations when time is critical, where information from a relative will rarely equal that previously recorded by medical staff, the risk to the patient is increased.”

Speaking about the inefficiencies introduced by recent changes Mr Stevenson, who worked for 30 years in delivering information systems, concluded,

“Changes such as re-organising out-of-hours working for GPs, providing new consultant contracts and investing in NHS24 are actually reducing efficiency in the NHS. Without shared information provided through modern computer systems, gathering information about the patient is duplicated needlessly, time is wasted and staff become dispirited.

“We need investment in infrastructure which will reduce workloads for front-line staff and allow more patient contact time. That will only come with significant investment over a number of years in new technologies. That is why we must start now.”

11 February 2005

STEVENSON COMMENTS ON PRISON RULING - MSP CALLS FOR INVESTMENT IN PETERHEAD

Following the news that the Scottish Executive has lost their appeal in the slopping out case local MSP and SNP Prisons spokesperson Stewart Stevenson commented:

“The slopping out case has been a fiasco from start to finish. In Peterhead Prison, the Scottish Prison Service had a sensible, well thought-out proposal from the staff which would have allowed prisoners access to night sanitation, but SPS management chose to reject this out of hand.

“The Scottish Executive are fully aware of the state of Scotland’s jails. Funds were available but they chose to ignore the problem and after this ruling I suspect we will be faced with even more claims and no doubt more payouts.

“A short term Executive saving has resulted in a long term public cost. It is the taxpayer who is going to have to pay the price for compensation claims as they will ultimately have to foot the bill.

“With accommodation issues surrounding all 3 prisons in the North of Scotland – Porterfield at Inverness, Peterhead and Craiginches – it is time for the SPS to look at making a substantial investment in new facilities. The logical place for that to happen is Peterhead.”

9 February 2005

STEVENSON HIGHLIGHTS SCOTTISH ENVIRONMENT WEEK

Banff and Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has urged local people to get involved in the Scottish Environment Week, which runs until 13 February.

Commenting on the issue, Mr Stevenson said:

“Scotland has an outstanding natural and cultural heritage of which we should all be proud and mustn’t forget. Scottish Environment Week presents an opportunity to celebrate its range and value, as well as discuss about how we protect and develop this valuable resource. Also, I hope that the week of events helps to raise awareness of the value which we should place on our environment and the many ways in which we can get involved in caring for it – through volunteering, in schools, community groups and in the work place.

“It is all too easy to take our environment for granted, but we all rely on its well being for our quality of life. As it faces increasing threats, this week will highlight initiatives that people all around Scotland are involved in to care for their surroundings and exemplify how good practice can generate jobs and success. Finally, looking to the future, it will bring together people from across all sectors to consider opportunities and challenges for Scotland.”

STEVENSON CALLS FOR ACTION TO SAFEGUARD RURAL SHOPS

Banff and Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has given his backing to a Parliamentary Motion expressing alarm at proposals being considered by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) which will potentially affect local newsagents.

Commenting on the issue, Mr Stevenson said:

“The proposals of the OFT to deregulate the system of wholesale distribution of newspapers and magazines could jeopardise the guaranteed distribution of publications to rural retailers and this is definitely not something that we want to see happening. Some 14 million newspapers and thousands of individual magazine titles are delivered each day to 54,000 retail outlets, however remote, with the same cover price.

“I have to say that it is a concern that the OFT and the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry are considering the UK becoming the first country in the European Union to introduce an entirely free market with no obligation to supply smaller retailers in rural, remote and socially-excluded areas. Such a free market would almost certainly put at risk a large proportion of Scotland’s 6,000 newspaper and magazine retailers with numerous retailers.

“I believe that the Scottish Executive should make representations to the OFT without delay to guarantee consumers continuing access to a wide range of reasonably priced publications and diminish the threat of closure to rural village shops, especially in the rural areas of Scotland. Hopefully this will ensure that the existing tried-and-tested supply chain is retained.”

7 February 2005

STEVENSON ANNOUNCES RESULT OF BANFF AND MACDUFF “REFERENDUM”

Following the count in Macduff today local MSP Stewart Stevenson, who had organised a consultative referendum on proposed sale of land at Canal Park in Banff to Tesco for a new supermarket, announced the results.

To the question

Tesco wish to buy Canal Park in Banff and build a supermarket and car park on the site. Canal Park was left to the people of Banff and Macduff and is now held by Aberdeenshire Council. The land includes a football pitch, tennis courts and the Bridge Street community centre.

If sold, the council will use the money from the sale to replace and enhance these facilities at other sites in Banff and Macduff. They also pledge to have the new facilities open before closing the old ones.

Overall, are you in favour of the above?

2,583 (64.57%) voted 'YES', 1,389 (34.72%) voted 'NO' and there were 28 spoiled ballot papers. The turnout overall (4,000 votes) was 66.40%.

Speaking after the count Mr Stevenson said,

“This has been a highly successful exercise with a higher turnout than at recent Parliamentary or Council elections. With two thirds of those voting indicating support for the Council's plans, a community previously divided can now see a way forward.

“The scale of the voting indicates that when you engage the electorate in an issue about which they feel strongly, make it easy for them to vote by providing a 'Freepost' envelope for return of voting slips and consult with and gain agreement both sides about the question to be asked, democracy wins.

“The difficulties being experienced in the Edinburgh City Tolls referendum where the advocate of the scheme is organising the ballot and setting the question are perhaps unsurprising by comparison.”
Commenting on the organisation of the referendum, Mr Stevenson continued,

“I now have even more respect for our local election officials. The effort involved was much more substantial than I initially released. I will take some persuading to organise another such ballot!”

2 February 2005

STEVENSON CALLS FOR ACTION TO SAFEGUARD RURAL SHOPS

Banff and Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has given his backing to a Parliamentary Motion expressing alarm at proposals being considered by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) which will potentially affect local newsagents.

Commenting on the issue, Mr Stevenson said:

“The proposals of the OFT to deregulate the system of wholesale distribution of newspapers and magazines could jeopardise the guaranteed distribution of publications to rural retailers and this is definitely not something that we want to see happening. Some 14 million newspapers and thousands of individual magazine titles are delivered each day to 54,000 retail outlets, however remote, with the same cover price.

“I have to say that it is a concern that the OFT and the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry are considering the United Kingdom becoming the first country in the European Union to introduce an entirely free market with no obligation to supply smaller retailers in rural, remote and socially-excluded areas. Such a free market would almost certainly put at risk a large proportion of Scotland’s 6,000 newspaper and magazine retailers with numerous retailers.

“I believe that the Scottish Executive should make representations to the OFT without delay to guarantee consumers continuing access to a wide range of reasonably priced publications and diminish the threat of closure to rural village shops, especially in the rural areas of Scotland. Hopefully this will ensure that the existing tried-and-tested supply chain is retained.”
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