Karen Adam is now the MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast

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23 October 2003

Prison Report - MSP Calls For Peterhead Rebuild

Banff & Bucha MSP Stewart Stevenson has used the opportunity of the publication today of the Chief Inspector of Prisons’ annual report to restate his demand for a new prison for Peterhead.

Mr Stevenson commented:

“It is disgraceful that the ability of prison staff to deliver a safer Scotland is being compromised through overcrowding in our prisons, and even in Peterhead where prisoners are being placed two to a cell.

“The inspector is right to highlight overcrowding in the system and focus on the need to deliver programmes which reduce offending.

“It is important that the ability to reduce reoffending is not compromised in any way. Now is the time for the Scottish Executive and SPS to schedule the rebuilding and expansion of the internationally-renowned and successful prison at Peterhead.”

22 October 2003

Stevenson Calls For Local Sourcing By Public Bodies

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banff & Buchan, has called for public bodies to locally source their products.

In a motion tabled in the Scottish Parliament, Mr Stevenson has called upon the Scottish Executive to take steps to ensure that public bodies such as the Scottish Prison Service, the NHS and local authorities obtain their foodstuffs from local sources and suppliers.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“Institutions such as the NHS, the Scottish Prison Service, local authorities and educational establishments need to be aware of their responsibilities towards their local community.

“It does not make sense for these bodies to be having to look far afield for produce made right on their doorstep. The Scottish Executive need to take steps to assist in this matter.

“The result will be to benefit North-east farmers, food processors and producers, as well as the local economy.”

Mr Stevenson has tabled a Motion on the subject in the Scottish Parliament which has already attracted cross-party support and is hopeful of getting the matter debated in the near future.

21 October 2003

NHS Offers Pensioner Eye treatment - At A Price

Stevenson demands answers from Ministers

SNP Depute Shadow Minister for Health, Stewart Stevenson MSP, has challenged the Executive to explain why a pensioner in his constituency was asked to pay thousands of pounds if he wanted a new treatment as part of efforts to save his sight.

Mr Stevenson commented:

“Mr Robert Ritchie lives in Peterhead, and suffers from an eye condition called age-related macular degeneration, which is steadily limiting his powers of sight.

“A new treatment of injections to the eye is offered for this condition, photodynamic therapy. However, Grampian University Hospitals NHS Trust is limiting free treatment to people with a particular form of this condition – “classical” CNV macular degeneration.

“Because Mr Ritchie’s particular form of the condition is “occult” CNV macular degeneration, he has been offered the treatment - but only if he is prepared to pay the cost.

“This is a distinction which not all Health authorities in Scotland preserve. In Dumfries and Galloway, for instance, Mr Ritchie’s condition would have been treated for free.

“The cost is considerable, and Mr Ritchie has been quoted £850 per injection, with no guarantees about how many injections might be needed. He has been warned that he would almost certainly have to pay several thousand pounds, money which, as a pensioner, he does not have.

“Mr Ritchie’s condition has continued to worsen, and he would like to preserve what sight he now has left.

“As far as I can establish, Mr Ritchie is being prevented from receiving treatment not on medical, but cost grounds. No patient should be put in a position where they are asked by the NHS to find thousands of pounds if they want to save their sight, particularly when this is clearly a policy which only applies in some parts of Scotland.

“This is a totally unacceptable situation, and one which I have now tabled parliamentary questions about. I urge the Scottish Executive to step in, as the NHS in Grampian have already cited lack of central funding as the main reason why they are charging patients for this treatment.”

16 October 2003

Swinney Puts Fishing Centre Stage For Euro Vote


Every SNP vote in the forthcoming election for the European Parliament will be a vote to save the fishing industry, SNP Leader Mr John Swinney MSP said today (Thursday).

Speaking as he visited Banff and Buchan accompanied by Shadow Fisheries Minister and North East MSP Mr Richard Lochhead and Banff and Buchan MSP Mr Stewart Stevenson, Mr Swinney pledged to put the plight of the industry centre stage in the party’s campaign.

Mr Swinney visited Peterhead Fish Market, met with fishing leaders and the ‘Cod Crusaders’ before going on to visit Macduff Shipyard. Commenting he said:

“Our fishing industry was betrayed by Scotland’s lack of a voice at the top table in Europe. An entire way of life was sold out by UK ministers who either don’t know or simply don’t care about the damage they are doing to our communities.

“What’s worse, Scottish ministers stood by and watched it happen without raising a single objection. They abandoned our fishing communities, but now the people of Scotland have their chance to make clear that they will never abandon our fishermen.

“Every vote for the SNP in the Euro elections will be a vote to scrap the damaging fishing deal struck last year and to save our fishing industry. I pledge today to put the plight of our fishing industry centre stage in this election and send a clear message to the Executive, Westminster and Brussels: we will fight to save our fishing communities.”

Richard Lochhead added:

“Our fishing communities have long memories, and well remember that it was a Conservative government that first sold them out, followed by Labour and now continued incompetence under a Liberal.

“Even now the London Minister has only found time five months after his appointment to come to Scotland and see for himself what is happening, and even then only after SNP pressure. It is just not good enough, and Scotland deserves better.”

Local MSP Stewart Stevenson added:

“I am delighted that John is here in the North-east once again listening to the concerns of local fishermen, local businesses and the wider community. It shows the priority that the SNP attaches to our North-east communities and their way of life.

“This has been a very valuable series of visits today and has served to underline just how vital it is that we have a Fisheries Minister and a Government who will stand up for our vital interests and achieve the best possible deal for Scotland.”

6 October 2003

Stevenson Calls For HEP C Inquiry

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has supported a motion in the Scottish Parliament calling for the Lib/Lab Executive to increase the amount of money available to those inadvertently infected with Hepatitis C through the blood supply, and also demands that the Scottish Executive establish a public enquiry into the whole Hepatitis C situation.

The Scottish Parliamentary motion has been put down following allegations that infected blood products may have been given to Scottish patients after 1995. Mr Stevenson, who has dealt with the cases of Hepatitis C sufferers, has signed the following motion:

S2M-426: That the Parliament recognises the valuable work of the former Health and Community Care Committee in its report on Hepatitis C (17th Report 2001) and its seven recommendations; notes that the scheme proposed by the Health Minister with a package worth in the region of £15 million falls far short of the recommendations of the independent inquiry team chaired by Lord Ross where payments would have totalled some £89 million; further notes that the inquiry team's figure is still well below settlements elsewhere in the world ; considers that the Scottish Executive's offer will be perceived as being hurtful, mean, unjust and insulting; notes that there are substantial unresolved issues regarding the probable prescribing of known infected blood products until as late as the mid 1990s; further notes that there are issues surrounding the effectiveness of the subsequent prescribing of "synthetic" Factor 8 products, and considers that the Scottish Executive should review its offer to comply with the recommendations of Lord Ross's inquiry and instigate a public inquiry now.

Commenting after adding his support to the motion. Mr Stevenson said:

"I am aware of a number of local people who were inadvertently infected with Hepatitis C through contaminated blood products, and, for the most part, their health has been suffering for a number of years. Now it would appear that the ex-gratia payments that the Scottish Executive is proposing to make by way of restitution are vastly inferior compared to the package that was recommended by the Executive's own independent inquiry team.

"In addition, the latest allegations that contaminated blood products have been used in Scotland since 1995 are very, very worrying. It is clear that this whole state of affairs requires to be investigated, in order to restore the people's faith in the integrity of the blood supply. For this reason, I am supportive of calls for a public inquiry into this critical matter."

Stewart Stevenson
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