Keeping up with you

Hello and welcome to all of you in Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse.

Thank you for taking a moment to look at this email. I want to keep everyone in touch with what’s going on in the constituency and what it might mean for you.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, we are all working from home. If you need help, phone the office as normal and leave an outline message. Someone will soon get back to you. You can also email me at any time. All the contact details are at the end of this email.

If you haven’t yet subscribed to receive your personalised copy of this newsletter which we are sending out every two weeks, then please do sign up here or copy and paste to christina-mckelvie.org/newsletter.


What’s up ahead in Scotland?
 
First, let me set down a reminder that Covid-19 hasn’t gone away yet. NHS Lanarkshire has put out an alert about virus levels locally. The message is simple: follow the guidance, don’t take risks and wear a facemask when you are in public places.
 


Now for something more positive news – and there is a lot to be positive about. The SNP’s vision to create a flourishing economy and a fairer society could not be further at odds with the Brexit chaos on offer at Westminster.
 
We have never had as much support for independence and the powers to make different charges and different results.
 
70% of voters expressing an opinion have more confidence in the SNP Scottish Government to manage the economy compared with Westminster according to a new Panelbase poll. This is a ringing endorsement of the SNP’s record in government, with voters choosing to put their trust in Nicola Sturgeon instead of Boris Johnson.
 
More and more of you are now backing independence. We can see what Johnson is doing every hour of every day. As we move ever closer to the end of the transition phase and the crash into exit-EU, the future of the UK as currently constituted is going to see confusion and shortages such that none of us – least of all, the Prime Minister – could ever have imagined.
 
It’s time to go and make our own decisions.

 

Fifth consecutive poll shows voters believe Scotland will vote ‘Yes’ in a fresh referendum

The Panelbase poll, conducted by Business for Scotland, also found that 60% of voters expressing an opinion agree that a pro-independence majority at next year’s Holyrood election has the right to call an independence referendum.
 
Commenting, SNP Depute Leader Keith Brown said: “Nearly two thirds believe we are winning the argument over Scotland’s future.
 
“And no wonder. The SNP’s ambitious plans to rebuild a fairer Scotland, announced yesterday by the First Minister, are in stark contrast to the bleak Brexit Britain that’s on offer from Westminster.
 
“Coronavirus has been the greatest public health crisis of our lifetime and the SNP Government will continue to work hard for the people of Scotland.
 
“But the pressure on Boris Johnson to respect the democratic rights of voters in Scotland is now immense. Make no mistake, a referendum on Scotland’s future is coming – and we will win.”Programme for Government

 
The First Minister has announced her Programme for Government for the year leading up to the May 2021 Scottish elections.
 
To get the full story, go to https://www.gov.scot/publications/protecting-scotland-renewing-scotland-governments-programme-scotland-2020-2021/
 


Briefly:
This Programme for Government sets out the Scottish Government's response to these connected challenges and opportunities. It commits to:
This Programme commits us to:

  • Continue to develop a world-class public health service that builds on our COVID-19 response.
  • Continue to suppress - and preferably eliminate - COVID-19. We will also provide support to those who have the virus and to those who are recovering from it, focusing not just on physical health but also on mental health and social support.
  • Launch in September a new proximity app, Protect Scotland, to enhance and support Test and Protect.
  • Remobilise our NHS Services focusing on (1) a move to deliver safely as many of its normal services as possible; (2) ensuring the capacity that is necessary to deal with the continuing presence of COVID-19; and (3) preparing the health and care services for the wider pressures of the winter season.
  • Extend the seasonal flu vaccine to those working in social care who provide direct personal care, those over 55, those living with someone who is shielding, and those aged 50‑54 depending on vaccine supplies, to protect people and our NHS this winter.
  • Immediately establish an independent review of adult social care. This will examine how adult social care can most effectively be reformed to deliver a national approach to care and support services. This will include consideration of a national care service.
  • Create a new role of Patient Safety Commissioner.
  • Scale up access to digital care - for both physical (Near Me video consultations) and mental health (Cognitive Behavioural Therapies) care.
  • Introduce a high quality and clinically safe thrombectomy service in Scotland which will ensure that those who experience severe stroke receive the best possible care, reducing their risk of long term disability.
  • Develop a nationwide network of community treatment centres to help patients manage their conditions and get treatments closer to home.
  • Redesign our accident and emergency services to ensure patients get safe and effective care in a way that protects them from exposure to COVID-19.
  • Expand mental health and wellbeing support for health and social care staff, including the development of a Health and Social Care Mental Health Network and enhanced access to digital resources.
  • Implement a Workforce Specialist Service, which will provide confidential assessment and treatment for mental ill health. This will be delivered through a multi‑disciplinary team of mental health care providers, and be supported by the continued delivery of digital wellbeing resources through the National Wellbeing Hub and the National Wellbeing Helpline.
  • Establish community health and wellbeing services that will support children, young people and their families - and have a particular focus on mental health - across all local authorities in 2021.
  • Work with Boards to retain, develop and support Mental Health Assessment Centres, as part of a broader approach to improving access to appropriate help as quickly as possible for people with mental health needs or distress.
  • A national mission to create new jobs, good jobs and green jobs - with a particular focus on our young people, supporting retraining and investing in our Green New Deal to tackle climate change.Promoting lifelong health and wellbeing - by tackling COVID-19, remobilising and reforming the NHS and social care and tackling health inequalities.
  •  
  • Promoting equality and helping our young people fulfil their potential.

I can’t condense the whole report but I certainly encourage you to take a look. The sound of commitment and honesty is a very welcome change from the daily nonsense we hear from elsewhere.
 
The Scottish Budget will work alongside the Programme for Government. In advance of the Budget 2021-22, the Scottish Government is seeking views on the role of Scotland’s devolved taxes and Fiscal Framework in supporting the COVID-19 economic recovery.

The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered twin health and economic crises on a global scale. The Scottish Government has taken unprecedented steps to support the people and businesses of Scotland and we will continue to do so. We also remain committed to being an open and consultative government, which values and encourages accountability.

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The pandemic has underlined the importance of providing timely information about the decisions we are taking to support public understanding and provide opportunities for the public and stakeholders to participate in those decisions.

In the Programme for Government 2020-21, we committed to building on our strong track record of taking a consultative approach to tax policy by launching an open representations process in advance of Budget 2021-22.  This process will seek views on the role of our devolved taxes and the Fiscal Framework in the COVID-19 economic recovery, and to inform the decisions we take at the upcoming Budget.

The Scottish Government considers this to be a crucial time to seek wide-ranging views on how we can best deploy our limited tax, borrowing and reserve powers to support the recovery, and how we can seek to address any deficiencies in our current devolved fiscal arrangements exposed by the crisis, in order to build stronger fiscal foundations for Scotland’s future.

I really encourage you to participate. There are just 6 main questions and the closing date is 8 October:

1. Devolved and local taxes as part of the Covid-19 recovery, with a focus on Budget 2021-22

2. Are there any further tax powers that should be devolved to the Scottish Parliament to facilitate our ability to support the economic recovery?
 
3. Are there any new tax proposals you would like to see implemented by the Scottish Government?
 
4. What particular fiscal challenges have been highlighted as a result of the COVID-19 emergency?
 
5. What changes, if any, should be made to the scope of devolved fiscal powers under the Fiscal Framework?
 
6. What fiscal rules should the Scottish Government follow?
 
The form is here:
https://consult.gov.scot/financial-strategy/budget-2021-22-supporting-covid-19-recovery/consultation/subpage.2016-07-07.1474135251/

 

Help for those with sight-threatening conditions


Patients with chronic eye conditions will be now be able to be assessed by community optometrists as part of a new plan supported by £3 million in funding.


Due to changes in hospital services because of COVID-19 - including health, safety and physical distancing measures – there has been limited capacity to see all patients with chronic and sight-threatening conditions.

Under the new plan, the skills of community optometrists will be utilised to support hospital eye services, ensuring more patients can be seen for their appointments. 


Community optometrists are qualified to undertake this care – and the new initiative will help patients as well as supporting the existing optometry workforce.
 
The Programme for Government contains a commitment to accelerate the reform of NHS eye care services.



This includes funding to support an additional 50 optometrists to train as independent prescribing optometrists, who can safely treat more patients within the community.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “As we steadily re-mobilise, we are implementing new ways of working to enable our highly skilled workforce across the whole NHS to deliver care in a safe and timely manner.

“I’m pleased that as we continue to see positive results in dealing with the virus, hospital patients with eye conditions will now be able to be reviewed by community optometrists.

“Community optometrists have worked very hard during the pandemic to embrace new ways of working, and these clinicians will now also play a key role in this initiative.

“This plan utilises the capacity within community optometry – their expertise, staffing and readily equipped practices can support the NHS both during the COVID-19 pandemic recovery, and beyond.”



Director of Royal National Institute of Blind Scotland James Adams said: "We welcome any move that ensures people receive timely eye-care examinations and treatment.  It remains as crucial as ever that eye problems are diagnosed as quickly as possible so that people don't lose sight unnecessarily.

“As with all our health sector staff, optometrists have worked incredibly hard to maintain their vital service in very challenging conditions. RNIB Scotland has worked closely with them to assure the public that it is safe, and important, to attend appointments."Review of adult social care
 
In Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse, we constantly seek to maintain adult care services at the highest possible levels. In a population with an ever larger older population, it is more important than ever that we properly protect older and more vulnerable people.So I welcome the forthcoming independent review is to consider the idea of a national care service.
 
The review, a Programme for Government commitment, will aim to ensure Scotland provides consistently excellent support for people who use these services, as well as their carers and their families.

It will be chaired by Derek Feeley, former director general of Health and Social Care in the Scottish Government, and will report by January 2021.

Adult social care comprises a wide array of services and non-clinical support in a range of settings, involving care homes, care at home, day services, and community support for people with a range of needs.

Social care supports more than 200,000 people across Scotland - those with disabilities, older people, people with mental health problems and those with drug and alcohol problems.

The review will take into account the experiences of those supported by, and who work, in social care, as well as looking at funding, governance, administration and delivery.

The review will consider the needs, rights and preferences of people who use services, their families, and their carers.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “This will be a wide ranging review of all aspects of a service which supports and involves so many people across Scotland. I am looking forward to recommendations that help ensure high standards of service and support into the future.

 

The Larkhall Covid-19 Rainbows

The Larkhall Rainbows have been absolutely amazing in their work to support people in need during this pandemic. Working in partnership has been key, from the bottom of my heart I could not be more grateful for the support and joy given to many of my constituents in the Larkhall area.


 

As one of the organisers explains: “We can all agree that the last few months have been extremely difficult as we have all needed to learn and adapt to a new way of living and working. The lockdown period has been particularly difficult for vulnerable people who were isolating or shielding, as many were unable to leave their home to collect essential items - such as food or prescribed medication - due to service closures and restrictions.
 
“The Larkhall COVID-19 Rainbows Group was set-up in March 2020, and has delivered a remarkable amount of support to the local Larkhall community. Local businesses, charities, projects, services and groups have all joined together to provide essential support to local people.
 
“It goes without question that this would not have been possible without local people giving up their own free time to help out through volunteering. Your selflessness and dedication have been truly inspiring for us all and we appreciate the work of all the volunteers who have done so much off their own backs to help give that extra bit of help to those who needed it most during lockdown. Their level of passion, dedication and loyalty has gone beyond the ‘call of duty’.”
 
Every volunteer, everyone who helps in any way, gets my heartfelt thanks. It’s people like you who remind us that there are still generous, kind, compassionate people who really do care about their communities.
 
 
Review of adult social care
 
In Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse, we constantly seek to maintain adult care services at the highest possible levels. In a population with an ever larger older population, it is more important than ever that we properly protect older and more vulnerable people.
 
So I welcome the forthcoming independent review is to consider the idea of a national care service.
 
The review, a Programme for Government commitment, will aim to ensure Scotland provides consistently excellent support for people who use these services, as well as their carers and their families.

It will be chaired by Derek Feeley, former director general of Health and Social Care in the Scottish Government, and will report by January 2021.

Adult social care comprises a wide array of services and non-clinical support in a range of settings, involving care homes, care at home, day services, and community support for people with a range of needs.

Social care supports more than 200,000 people across Scotland - those with disabilities, older people, people with mental health problems and those with drug and alcohol problems.

The review will take into account the experiences of those supported by, and who work, in social care, as well as looking at funding, governance, administration and delivery.

The review will consider the needs, rights and preferences of people who use services, their families, and their carers.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “This will be a wide ranging review of all aspects of a service which supports and involves so many people across Scotland. I am looking forward to recommendations that help ensure high standards of service and support into the future.

“This independent review will examine how adult social care can be most effectively reformed to deliver a national approach to care and support services - and this will include consideration of a national care service.

“It will also build upon our existing commitments to improving provision - long standing issues in adult social care have been thrown into sharp relief during the pandemic, and they demand our attention.

“We owe it to those who use and work in adult social care services to acknowledge these challenges, to learn from them, and to consider carefully how we can most effective plan for the future.”

Chair of the Review of Adult Social Care Derek Feeley said: “I am grateful to the Health Secretary for the invitation to chair this independent review and to the advisory panel for agreeing to bring their considerable expertise to our work to recommend improvements to adult social care in Scotland.
 
“I look forward to views of everyone involved in our social care system and, in particular, to hearing from service users about what it will take for us to better meet their needs, rights and preferences.
 
“We have a broad remit that touches on every part of the social care landscape; from the experience of those using and working in the system to how it should be funded and regulated. We will look at every option and opportunity to bring about the improvements that I know everyone working in the system aspires to achieve."