Category Archives: Holyrood

Thousands snub hospital appointments five times in a year

Nearly 17,000 patients failed to show up for a hospital appointment on five or more occasions last year, new figures have shown.

Research by the Scottish Conservatives has revealed 16,803 people were DNAs (did not attends) five or more times in 2014/15.

In addition to them, nearly 14,000 people failed to show four times, while around 33,300 didn’t appear on a hattrick of occasions.

Nearly 100,000 missed appointments twice, while those missing just one totalled 400,000.

People missing appointments causes huge headaches for the NHS, and the health service has said previously each DNA costs around £120.

NHS Tayside had the highest number of patients who failed to show on five or more occasions last year (7096), followed by NHS Lanarkshire (2670) and NHS Greater Glasgow in Clyde (2431).

The statistics were obtained by the Scottish Conservatives through Freedom of Information.

The party has previously suggested those who failed to show for appointments on a certain number of occasions could face some sanction from the health board.

The Scottish Government has also been urged to look at more innovative ways of reminding patients to turn up at appointments.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said:

“Missing a hospital appointment can happen to anyone, and for a range of reasons.

“But when you’re getting to the point where you are missing five or more in the space of just a year, something really has to be done.

“That is costing the NHS thousands of pounds, wreaking havoc with hospital planning, and of course potentially harming the health of the patient involved.

“We’ve been critical of the NHS in the past for cancelling appointments and procedures, so it’s only fair we do everything we can to make sure patient no-shows are limited too.

“We need to find ways to ensure people turn up at the appointments that are made and stop showing contempt for our NHS, doctors and nursing staff.”

Notes to editors:
Below is a table showing patients who have cancelled appointments in 2014/15, by health board, and number of occasions.
Health board
Five +
Ayrshire and Arran
Dumfries and Galloway
Forth Valley
Gtr Glasgow and Clyde
Western Isles
To see the full FoI responses, contact the Scottish Conservative press office.
It has been estimated each DNA costs the NHS around £120:

Scottish Government must reverse bridge cuts in upcoming budget

The Scottish Government has been urged to properly fund the Forth Road Bridge when it announces its budget next week.

The vital structure has been closed for a week after cracks were found, prompting travel chaos across the east of Scotland and damaging businesses.

It has since emerged that the budget for the bridge between Edinburgh and Fife has been slashed by 65 per cent in recent years.

Today, at First Minister’s Questions, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said – with more money for capital spending having been announced by Chancellor George Osborne – the SNP had to now ensure the bridge was properly funded.

Wednesday’s budget, she added, would be the perfect opportunity for finance secretary John Swinney to do just that.

Ruth also challenged the First Minister on whether or not the bridge would be accessible to all vehicles when it reopens in early January, after senior engineers suggested it may no longer be able to take heavy goods vehicles.

Nicola Sturgeon said it was her “full intention” for the bridge to reopen “as normal” to all vehicles.


Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said:

“The priority clearly must be to ensure the bridge is fixed as soon as possible and that any problems are addressed in full.

“But the SNP cannot avoid the fact the budget for the Forth Road Bridge has been hammered in recent years.

“It’s clear the authorities gambled that the old bridge could be patched up until the new one was ready.

“Now we know that gamble has failed.

“Two weeks ago the Chancellor announced a significant increase in capital expenditure for Scotland.

“The money is there, and the Scottish Government must now commit to properly funding the Forth Road Bridge to ensure this chaos is never repeated again.

“It’s also essential Nicola Sturgeon gives businesses the commitment they are looking for that this vital route will be reopened in full to all vehicles at the beginning of January.”

Independent inquiry needed into FRB closure

An independent inquiry is needed into the closure of the Forth Road Bridge, the Scottish Conservatives have said.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament today, Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Murdo Fraser said such a probe was the only sure way of finding out the facts surrounding the high-profile and unprecedented restriction, and to ensure the disruption isn’t repeated in future.

He was responding to a statement in Holyrood by transport minister Derek Mackay, who provided more technical details about the fault, but stopped short of agreeing to an inquiry.

The main link between Edinburgh and Fife has been shut since Friday, and is not expected to reopen until after New Year.

Mr Fraser, who is also the Scottish Conservative finance spokesman, said he also had sympathy with businesses who are calling for compensation as a result of the closure.

Scottish Conservative Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Murdo Fraser said:

“It hardly needs to be stated how damaging the bridge closure is for the economy of Fife and the east of Scotland more generally.

“And while the efforts of the Scottish Government, its agencies and the transport companies are appreciated, there are still problems and the priority must be resolving these.

“But we also need to have a fully independent inquiry into what went wrong, and that has to report early in the New Year.

“There has been a great deal of speculation that the bridge closure was the result of inadequate maintenance.

“With such an inquiry, we can find out the truth of the matter, and make sure vital lessons are learned for the future.

“In addition, businesses who are losing large sums of money as a result of this are understandably calling for compensation.

“The Scottish Government should detail exactly what plans it has in place to assist these organisations.”


Shocking rise in liver disease in Scotland’s most deprived areas

There has been a shocking rise in liver disease in Scotland’s most deprived areas, official figures revealed today.

Latest ISD Scotland statistics show levels of the disease are six times higher and patients are more likely to die if they live in Scotland’s poorest areas.

In total, 821 people died from the illness last year with 587 of those deaths being in the most deprived areas.

Today’s report also reveals that those who live in a disadvantaged area are five times more likely to end up in hospital with the disease.

The data shows 80 per cent of liver disease deaths are the cause of alcohol consumption and mortality rates are more prevalent in males than females.

Despite recent improvements in consumption, the Scottish Conservatives are warning that the liver disease rate north of the border shows Scotland’s battle with alcohol is far from over.

Scottish Conservative health spokesman Jackson Carlaw said:

“The record number of liver disease deaths serves as a reminder that Scotland’s relationship with alcohol is deep-rooted and complex.

“Even with recent improvements in consumption, it will take years, if not decades, for this to be reflected in death rates.

“We cannot afford to be complacent, and we have to keep pushing the importance of responsible intake.

“Highlighting personal responsibility as part of that will be absolutely key – this is not something the NHS can do on its own.”

Unions warn Scotland’s justice system is at risk

Inadequate resourcing and budget cuts are placing Scotland’s justice system at risk, MSPs were told today.

In a submission by the Procurators Fiscal Society (PFS) to Holyrood’s justice committee union bosses said current resources are “insufficient” for the increase in the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service’s workload.

The organisation has warned that while there will be around 1,500 Sheriff and Jury trials over the course of the financial year – 4,600 “resource intensive” indictments have already been served this year to date.

According to the PFS, each indictment has to be “prepared as if it were proceeding to trial”, hugely increasing the work of legal staff. 

In Scotland’s High Courts, almost 40 per cent of cases were indicted less than four weeks before the official deadline, well below the target of 80 per cent.

And the PFS indicated that the vast majority of High Court cases are indicted right up to the wire, either the day before or on the deadline itself.

Initiatives and legislative developments involving domestic abuse, stalking and housebreaking cases have also “significantly increased the workload and consequent pressures” on staff.

The submission concludes that the COPFS has been set an “unrealistic task” as it attempts to work within existing resources, that the welfare of staff is in “jeopardy” and staff morale “may deteriorate further.”

Last year justice spokeswoman Margaret Mitchell warned that resource pressures on the COPFS would negatively impact access to justice and urged the Scottish Government to reassess its budget for the year ahead.

Scottish Conservative justice spokeswoman Margaret Mitchell MSP said:“This is another extremely significant warning, and one which will cause alarm to the public.

“The justice system is already struggling to cope and that situation is only going to get worse.

“The Scottish Government has yet to reveal their budget but this submission serves as a strong warning that the justice system needs proper resourcing.

“Things can’t go on as they are because the system is denying people access to justice and causing huge inconvenience and hurt to victims and witnesses.

“It’s time the cabinet secretary for justice and SNP to step up to the mark, listen and take action.”

Sheriff courts less efficient in wake of SNP closure programme:

Justice chiefs deliver dire warning over SNP court resources:


The SNP Government today faced calls to create a new generation of entrepreneurs from Scotland’s sacked oil workers. Already Britain’s offshore oil sector has seen the loss of 65,000 jobs since the crisis at the start of last year. The number of industry jobs has fallen from 440,000 to 375,000. Other reports suggest that a further 35,000 jobs will be slashed by 2019, as many as 4,000 a year coming from Aberdeen and the Grampian areas where 40,000 jobs currently depend on the sector.

Scottish Conservative candidate Derek Wann said Nicola Sturgeon’s Government was bereft of “big ideas” for the beleaguered sector and had failed those who had lost their jobs over the past year by refusing to act progressively and decisively. And he called on the First Minister to create a new innovation fund for business start-ups.

“Some of these guys could teach the SNP Government a thing or two about innovation and progressive thinking,” said the candidate for Angus South. “It’s inconceivable that talent and innovation does not exist among those who have suffered from the slump. We need to innovate ourselves out of this crisis and offset the economic impact; And it’s obvious to me that we need to use the oil crisis to spark more entrepreneurship and challenge people to create new

Mr Wann pointed to the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 fund as a model for change. “What is the Oil and Gas Authority doing? What is Nicola Sturgeon’s Energy Jobs Taskforce set up by the Scottish Government to support the industry in January doing? What is the Scottish Energy Advisory Board doing in terms of providing real help for those who are out of work and have no real prospect of finding a job elsewhere?”

“There needs to be tangible action to help those out of work. Already I’m hearing tremendously encouraging stories of new start-up companies… but we need to do more to drive this trend. There needs to be process and a solid investment tool for research and innovation by those who have something to offer.”

“The future of oil and gas is dependent on breakout thinkers and entrepreneurs, but they need help to hothouse their ideas, which will come from a lifetime’s experience. They also need the funding which will lead to the development of world leading technologies and skills in our oil and gas industry.”

A report for the industry body Oil and Gas UK last year estimated the sector is worth about £35bn to the UK economy. In 2012-13 the industry paid £6.5bn in taxes to the UK government. Oil and Gas UK said 330,000 other jobs are directly sustained by the industry with 207,000 people within the wider supply chain and a further 100,000 jobs supported by the economic activity created by employees’ spending. Of Britain’s remaining 375,000 oil and gas jobs, some 45 per cent are based in Scotland.

It’s estimated that there are 25 billion barrels of oil remaining in the North Sea. “SME Instrument” is a new 2.8 billion euros funding scheme of the European Commission managed by The Executive Agency for Small and Medium sized Enterprises (EASME) to support economic growth, thanks to which a business could receive up to three million euros in funding, business support and mentorship. It is part of Horizon 2020, EU Research and Innovation programme with nearly £67 (€80 billion) of funding available from this year up to 2020. Enterprise and Industry says that more than 99 per cent of all European businesses are micro, small and medium sized enterprises. They provide two out of three of the private sector jobs and contribute to more than half of the total value added tax created by businesses in the EU.

The blue-sky research agency, the European Research Council, also provides ‘proof of concept’ grants to existing grantees to test the marketability of their research findings. Breakthrough innovations in the oil and gas sector such as 4D imaging, inspection drones, nanotech, tubing technologies and big data measurement processing have already attracted angel investors and support from schemes like Horizon 2020.

“Fergus Ewing seems to have fallen asleep on the job,” Mr Wann added. “If there’s existing funding available for innovative start-ups then what’s he doing to promote it? Such schemes remain out of reach for Scots oil workers and what’s really needed is a programme of funding for great ideas here in the North-East.”

That’s the kind of support we need to see from the First Minister and her Government. Not more talking shops which achieve nothing.
“This oil crisis means failure to act in a bold and progressive is not an option. The big question the SNP Government needs to ask themselves is how do they kickstart the North-east economy which has been so badly blighted in recent times, and how do they maximise the future potential of all those who have lost their jobs.”

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Derek Wann – Conservative candidate for Angus South.