Cole-Hamilton: 722 suspected drug deaths is all too raw

Speaking after official statistics show there were 722 suspected drug deaths during the first half of 2021, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton commented:

“It is devastating to learn that 722 people had their life cut short by drugs in the first few months of this year alone. This will be a painful day for the hundreds of families for whom this news will feel all too raw.

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Health Secretary’s inaction “scarring” NHS staff

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has warned today that sustained pressure on A&E departments across Scotland will have a “scarring” effect, demoralising a whole generation of qualified professionals to the extent that many are likely to leave the service.

The SNP target to see patients within four hours of attending A&E has been breached for more than 6,000 people a week in each of the last five weeks. This number has more than tripled in recent months, increasing from 2,086 in the last week of 2020 to 6,915 in the week beginning 5 September 2021, the most recent week of data.

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1 in 20 patients in pain wait a year for treatment

Scottish Liberal Democrat Health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has today urged "compassion and urgent treatment for patients in pain" as new figures revealed that 1 in 20 patients referred for chronic pain have to wait over a year for treatment.

The figures published by Public Health Scotland reveal that during the quarter ending 30 June 2021 112 patients, or 5.4% of the total number who presented, waited a year or more to be seen. 250 patients waited between 24 and 51 weeks during the same period. 

Chronic Pain Services are measured as part of the 18 Weeks Referral to Treatment Standard.

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Sturgeon's conference speech is either cynical or paranoid

Responding to Nicola Sturgeon's speech to SNP conference and her claims that the UK is seeking to “damage” Scotland and “by making us poorer, they’ll say we can’t afford to be independent”, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said:

"This speech from the SNP leader is either desperately cynical or deeply paranoid.

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230,000 operations lost but SNP choose to focus on independence

As the SNP devote their time to pushing independence at their annual conference, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has revealed new analysis showing that in the seventeen months since the pandemic began more than 230,000 operations were cancelled and called on the SNP to demonstrate that they care about the nation's health as much as they care about the nation's borders.

Analysis conducted by Scottish Liberal Democrats reveals that between March 2020 – July 2021, a 17-month period, 251,508 operations were conducted. Analysis of previous years reveals that the between 2016 and 2019, the average number of operations conducted was 485,208. This means that 233,700 operations have been lost to Covid.

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Cole-Hamilton presses the government for urgent measures to tackle violence against women

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has today repeated his party's calls to establish a commission to tackle violence against women and called for this to deliver recommendations to parliament within a year.

Data shows a significant rise in the reporting of domestic abuse during the lockdown period. According to Government statistics published this summer, there were 33,425 charges reported in 2020-21 which were identified as being related to domestic abuse, the highest number reported since 2015-16. Furthermore, statistics published this week have shown that in 2020-21, 1,045 stalking charges were reported to the COPFS. Of these, 592 were identified as domestic abuse.

In March Scottish Liberal Democrats put forward proposals for an expert commission to prevent violence against women and girls. Responding, Cabinet Secretary Huma Yousaf, said that the Government “would certainly be willing to explore the idea of a commission, with an open mind” and that “a commission might help bring all he strands of work together.”

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Scottish Liberal Democrats vote no to Covid IDs

Speaking as the SNP and Scottish Greens vote to introduce Covid ID cards in Scotland, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton condemned the decision and confirmed that his party will continue to campaign for their abolition. 

In his speech in the debate, Mr Cole-Hamilton warned the government that given the potential for those who have been vaccinated to still transmit the virus, vaccine passports would give people a false sense of security 

Mr Cole-Hamilton said: 

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Rennie: Justice Secretary should admit cavalier closures led to tragic M9 deaths

Responding to the Justice Secretary's statement on the M9 crash, Willie Rennie said:

"To use this week of all weeks to claim the centralisation of the police was a “success story” is both insulting and offensive.

"The Chief Constable admitted that for three years the call centre system was unsafe.

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'Commitment to refugees will fail without funding to local councils' Jamie Stone MP

Speaking on an Urgent Question to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, Jamie Stone Liberal Democrat MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross and spokesperson for Defence today urged the Government to supply proper funding to local councils to support refugees coming to the UK from Afghanistan. 

After speaking in the Chamber, Mr Stone commented:

"It is absolutely crucial that local councils across the whole of the UK are supported as we welcome refugees into our country. We cannot allow for our communities to crack during this time of increased pressure. It's simple, if local councils are not properly funded by the UK Government, the commitment to refugees will fail. This will worst of all affect the most vulnerable in society and ignite a fire for Afghan refugees who only recently escaped the frying pan. 

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Incredible pressures on businesses not helped by absolutist politics - Rennie

Businesses and the Scottish economy are under incredible pressure from the pandemic, much needed climate change reforms and Brexit, according to Willie Rennie MSP, and additional uncertainty added by the absolutist politics of the SNP, Conservative and Green parties will only damage recovery.     

Speaking in a debate in the Scottish Parliament on the Programme for Government this afternoon, the Scottish Liberal Democrat economy spokesperson responded to speeches by colleagues on the nationalist and conservative benches which focused on the constitutional debate rather than supporting businesses and aiding recovery. 

In one faux pas, a Conservative MSP claimed that 'Independence would be ten times worse than Brexit', despite her party's positive view of the latter.  

Mr Rennie said: 

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