Skip to content

Week 23 – 4th June – 10th June, 2022

04/06/2022 – 10/06/22      

Medicine, Disabilities, Women, Green Issues and Indyref2 among other things ….

Ferries

            Scotgov is spending £180,000 to hire an expert to get the two delayed ferries completed.  ‘Turnaround director’ Tim Hair, now departed from Ferguson, was paid over £1 million in two years without success.  Unclear how much the new postholder will get.  Contracts to revamp and run maintenance work, improve efficiency and raise operational standards are being advertised, plus another contract for 2023 for the materials needed to launch Hull 802.

ScotRail

            got the late trains running for the Ukraine match, but not for Armenia, when  fans were advised to leave the match early to catch the last train. Jenny Gilruth helpfully announced Scotland fans would ‘prefer to walk back’ to Glasgow city centre from Mount Florida.

            Not much fanfare about Boris Johnson cancelling the promised £3 bn rail extension which would link Scotland to HS2, so Scotland will be servicing debt on something else it will never get.

Women and Gender Reform

            Joanna Cherry has warned again about bias in the gender reform debate (‘Critical voices must be heard in the debate on GRA reform’, National, 3/6/22).  She points out the very real dangers of self-ID without gatekeeping and the irony of calling the Lesbian Gay and Bisexual Alliance (LGB) a ‘hate group’ for organising around same-sex attraction, while organising around trans rights like Scottish Trans Alliance is not ‘hateful’.

            Public consultation opposed self-ID, with the Children’s Commissioner seriously concerned about the lack of evidence underpinning proposed changes.

           The Holyrood debate on trans identified males in female sport only heard from two men, and refused to admit the need for fairness and safety in sport.

           Cherry hopes the committee won’t be ‘guilty of confirmation bias’, calling only evidence which validates the apparent majority committee support of self-ID. 

           Women and girls have much to fear.  But there is a vote and MSPs should remember that the half of their constituents who are female may not be inclined to re-elect them.

         This week Liz Truss, UK Minister for Women and Equalities, spoke out in favour of single-sex spaces for women, saying the law is on women’s side and the UK government will defend it.  Said law also applies in Scotland.

Tyler Rattray

            won the Val McDermid Award at the Scottish Women’s Football Awards recently for challenging inequality and promoting women’s football.  The former captain of Raith Rovers Ladies FC walked out of the club on the signing of David Goodwillie by the men’s team, and was followed by the rest of the ladies team.  They became McDermid Ladies, now sponsored by author Val McDermid after she withdrew her sponsorship from the men.

Green Matters:

Land Reform

            Soaring land prices mean the maximum Scottish Land Fund (SLF) payout of £1 million for community buyouts will not help many due to soaring land prices and speculation.  But they did give Langholm Initiative £1 million towards buying another 5,300 acres of Langholm Moor from one of the UK’s richest landowners, the Duke of Buccleuch, leaving the Initiative a mere £450,000 short of its target to expand the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve to 10,500 acres.

A Windfall Energy Tax

            is finally being charged to North Sea oil and gas companies through an Energy Profit Levy of 25% in addition to the base 40% tax rate.  This will raise over £5 bn in a year, and runs until December 2025.

            But the government is also giving new investment incentives to the same companies, which may amount to an overall tax saving of over 90% for every £1 invested in untapped projects.  No new investment before the end of 2025, no rebate on the energy profit levy.

more on Green issues on the ISP website …… and ISP on Facebook

Legal

            The Scottish government’s Bail and Release from Custody (Scotland) Bill may result in many criminals being released from overcrowded jails.  It would allow sheriffs to refuse bail only on public interest grounds and would allow ministers to release long term prisoners even when this is opposed by the parole board, plus mass prisoner releases in an emergency like covid or if an emergency rendered parts of prisons unusable.

            One in eight Scottish crimes, over 30,000 in total, were committed by criminals out on bail between 2017/18 and 2019/20, including 29 murders, according to the government’s own figures.  Former Aberdeen Sheriff Douglas Cusine thinks the bill could bring ‘potentially calamitous consequences for public safety’.

Women’s Medicine

            Leading surgeons claim women are dying of major internal bleeding because research is male-centred, writes Janet Boyle in the Sunday Post, 5th June 2022.  Women are not routinely screened for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms (AAA), whereas men are screened from age 65.  The aorta is the main blood vessel from the heart through the chest and abdomen. 

            Even when women are ‘accidentally’ diagnosed, surgery is often delayed due to male-centred operating guidelines.  Surgeon Anna Pouncey says that women’s smaller blood vessels are less likely to meet the AAA 5.5 cm diameter measurement which is the threshold for (men’s) surgery. 

            Twice as many women are refused surgery because the aneurysm is too far advanced when diagnosed, and if operated on are twice as likely to die as men.  Five times as many men are operated on as women, but women comprise one third of burst aneurysm cases

            Whereas male mortality from AAAs has sharply declined since 1990, female mortality remains stubbornly high, with women often sustaining long-term injuries during surgery due to the larger surgical instruments developed to treat men.

            According to the National Institute for Health and Care Research female screening is not justified on a cost or clinical basis.  The Scottish government follows the UK screening guidelines, but is willing to review this if new evidence emerges.

Education

            Andrea Bradley, the new General Secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland, the union’s first-ever female general secretary, says teachers are facing problems now which they never have before.

            Staff increasingly provide food and supplies for children whose parents just do not have enough money.  Children come to school hungry, and an unexpected post-lockdown problem is that children became addicted to tech during lockdown and struggle to engage in person with other pupils and teachers. Bradley also highlights reports of girls as young as nine having suffered sexual harassment at school, with one in five teenage girls having been sexually assaulted.  (‘Crisis in the Classroom’, Stephen Stewart, Sunday Post 5/6/22).

NHS Scotland

Nursing Staff shortages

            are compromising patient care, according to the Royal College of Nursing in Scotland, with shortages illegally filled by students, and nursing care sometimes performed by unqualified staff. The Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Act 2019 orders healthcare providers to correctly resource provision, and exclude students from the numbers, but this does not always happen.

Long Covid

            has left 10,000 children and 145,000 adults in Scotland suffering for over 12 weeks after an initial covid diagnosis.  Some children develop paediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome (PIDS) or paediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric syndrome (PANS), where patients exhibit psychiatric symptoms following inflammation. 

         The Scottish government is spending £3 million a year in long covid support, with a £10 million fund being rolled out through local health boards.  But Scotland has no long covid clinics, although England does. (‘Scotland’s forgotten victims?  Record number of Scots… suffer from debilitating effects of long covid’, Martin Williams, Herald, 5/6/22)

 Radiologist Shortage

            The Royal College of Radiologists (RCR) says Scotland already has 23% fewer consultant radiologists than it needs (103), forecast to rise to 30% (189) by 2026.

Dentistry in Crisis

            Links Dental Practice in Bruntsfield, Edinburgh recently told 10,000 patients that they must pay for treatment after October or go elsewhere.  Due to ongoing hygiene restrictions associated with covid, practices now treat half as many patients as pre-covid, and Scottish government support for dentistry ended in April.  Patients must either pay for treatment or take out payment plans.

Public Sector Jobs Cuts

            The Scottish government plans to axe 17,000 public sector jobs (4% of the total) to bring the sector back to pre-covid size, due to smaller than expected tax revenues last year.  December 2019’s figure of over 505,000 public sector workers rose to over 534,000 by December 2021, and Unison claims more like 30-40,000 jobs will be cut, many in local government, whose funding will be £10.6 bn yearly for 3 years, rising to £10.7 bn in 2026/27.  The government is also aiming to keep the total public sector pay bill at 2022/23 levels.

Disability Matters

Young People with Learning Disabilities

            A new Scottish partnership is aiming to support young learning-disabled people to transition to university and higher education, including work placements to build confidence and transferrable skills.

            ENABLE Scotland, Edinburgh Napier University and Ernst and Young are working together to expand to the east of Scotland the Breaking Barriers programme started in the west by Strathclyde University’s Business School, ScottishPower and STV.

            Currently, only 8.6% of learning-disabled school leavers go on to higher education, compared with 45% of the general school population.

Edinburgh’s Cutting Edge Theatre

            is developing its work with learning-disabled youngsters through its Disability Arts programme for 14-18 year olds to provide a pathway from primary school to professional training and employment, an opportunity not available elsewhere in Scotland.  Funding from the ScottishPower Foundation founded the theatre’s Young Company for the learning-disabled last year, and this September sees the Youth Theatre launch with drop-in drama classes for adults and children, plus online training.

Finally,

IndyRef2 Legal Advice

The Scottish government finally published part of the legal advice they received, clarifying that they can develop policy proposals, call for transfer of power, and ask the Electoral Commission to test a referendum question. 

            Labour peer George Foulkes’ plea for the Scottish government to be forbidden from spending money on another referendum was defeated in the House of Lords, as was a Scottish Tory attempt to get the referendum cancelled.

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *