Jardine: GERS figures drive home value of UK economic partnership

Speaking after the Scottish Government published its annual statistics on government revenue and spending in Scotland (GERS), showing a “blistering” £36.3bn deficit in 2020/21 as the virus took its toll, Scottish Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson Christine Jardine MP said:

"Spending big to protect lives and livelihoods was the only option but the cost to government has been enormous.

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Worst A&E statistics show NHS is “on its knees”

New statistics published today show that more people than ever are waiting more than four hours to be seen and processed in Scotland’s A&E departments.

Public Health Scotland data shows that during the week ending 08 August 2021, 6,005 people waited more than four hours to be processed after attending A&E. This is an increase of more than 500 people compared to the week before, and means only 76.5% of patients attending were seen within four hours.

This is the lowest percentage since this publication began in February 2015.

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said:

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Cole-Hamilton urges ministers to accelerate suicide prevention plan

Responding to figures showing that 805 probable suicides were registered in Scotland in 2020, Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP commented:

"More than two people a day are dying by suicide. Today's news will be painful for thousands of families.

"Every life matters and further work to prevent suicide and save lives must be the priority.

"The Scottish Government's suicide prevention plans should be seamless but last time there was a 586-day gap between plans. Now ministers will prolong the current plan by nine months because they didn't have its replacement ready to go.

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Cole-Hamilton warns government on 17% increase in alcohol-specific deaths

New statistics published today show that there were 1,190 alcohol-specific deaths in 2020, an increase of 17% on the number seen in 2019. This represents the highest number of alcohol-specific deaths registered since 2008.

The statistics also show that after adjusting for age, alcohol-specific death rates in the most deprived areas were 4.1 times more than those in the least deprived areas.

Wider statistics show that death rates for drug-related, alcohol-specific deaths, and suicides, were notably higher in the most deprived areas.

Commenting, Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said:

“These figures make for difficult reading. They show the crushing weight of deprivation on people’s lives. I’m so sorry for every person and every family who has been let down and lost a loved one.

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More than 1 in 10 off school even after classrooms reopened

Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Beatrice Wishart MSP has today called for the Scottish Government to step up support for schools and pupils, as she revealed that despite the resumption of in-person teaching in the final months of the 2020/21 school year, 1 in 10 pupils were not in school. 

In response to a parliamentary question from Ms Wishart, Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville confirmed that that between April and June 2021, the combined rate for pupils not in school due to Covid-19 related reasons and Non-Covid-19 related reasons was 10.4%. 

Commenting on the figures, Ms Wishart said: 

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Ministers must act to stop gap between suicide prevention plans

Speaking ahead of the publication of annual statistics on probable suicides next week, Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton has today called on the Scottish Government to revise its plan to leave Scotland without a suicide prevention action plan for almost a year. 

Every Life Matters was published in 2018, 586 days after the expiry of the previous suicide action plan. It expires at the end of 2021. On 18th June 2021, Minister for Mental Wellbeing Kevin Stewart announced that the new strategy will be published in September 2022. 

Last year’s figures showed there were 833 probable suicides registered in Scotland in 2019 - an increase from 784 in 2018.  

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said: 

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Health Secretary should apologise to NHS staff, as 100 days are up

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton has today said that the Health Secretary should apologise to health staff after the SNP failed to publish an NHS Recovery Plan within 100 days of the new parliamentary term. 

The SNP promised that their NHS recovery plan would be published by 14th August, within 100 days of the new Parliament starting. The Audit of Critical Care in NHS Scotland published this week found that during the pandemic some units were looking after three times their baseline capacity without access to additional ICU trained staff. 

Mr Cole-Hamilton has previously called on the Health Secretary to ensure that the NHS recovery plan contains:  

  • Resources to ensure that missed targets for A&E performance, operations and screening programs are met. 
  • Increasing the number of diagnosis and treatment centres within health boards.  
  • Expanded testing capacity in every health board to meet the need to assess more people on suspicion of cancer and other life-limiting conditions. 
  • Listening to the views of NHS staff as to which service innovations they pioneered during the pandemic will be essential to rebuild the health service.   
  • Funding a bigger range of specialists, diagnosis and treatment in local communities and expanding the services available in GP surgeries. 
  • Training more mental health specialists. 
  • Specialist long Covid clinics and new in-home support. 

Mr Cole-Hamilton said:

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Double by-election wins for Highland Liberal Democrats

Jamie Stone, Liberal Democrat MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, has congratulated newly elected councillors Jill Tilt and Colin Aitken for their by-election victories in the Highlands.

Councillor Jill Tilt won in Wick and East Caithness, while Colin Aitken was victorious in Inverness West. The wards were vacated due to two Independent councillors standing down from the Highland Council.

The Liberal Democrat group on Highland Council now stands at 11 councillors.

Jamie Stone MP said:

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Accountability is needed at the top of Scottish education

Speaking as the first pupils return to school for the new term, Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Beatrice Wishart has today said that accountability is needed at the top of Scottish education as she highlighted thousands of teachers on temporary and zero hours contracts and the need for new leadership at the SQA..

Ms Wishart said:

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Quarantine exemption system still in disarray - Chamberlain

The IT system responsible for transferring patient information regarding Covid vaccinations across the four UK nations, and for sharing that data with the EU travel scheme, is still not working. MP Wendy Chamberlain has reported.

After raising the issue on behalf of three PHD students at the University of St Andrews, who reported that their first vaccine dose received in England did not show up on the Scottish quarantine exemption system, several more cases have been raised with the North East Fife MP. One of the three students, Giulia Benedetta Calabrese, missed her brother's wedding in Switzerland due to the error.

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