On Monday 6th May I had the pleasure of visiting Monklands Pharmacy in Airdrie, where I saw first-hand the important and wide ranging benefits Scotland’s network of community pharmacies brings to patients.
The visit was organised by Community Pharmacy Scotland, which represents the interests of the owners of Scotland’s community pharmacies, and helped show me the positive contribution that a modern pharmacy can have on a community’s health.
I really enjoyed my visit and had some good conversations with the pharmacy workers and with people from Community Pharmacy Scotland who told me about the range of services delivered to 600,000 patients who go through the door of Scotland’s community pharmacies every day – including the Chronic Medication Service, the public health campaigns and successful interventions such as smoking cessation.
The network of around 1247 healthcare facilities ensures that community pharmacies provide the modern NHS with its’ most accessible point of contact in communities throughout the country.
Matt Barclay, Policy Pharmacist for Community Pharmacy Scotland said:
“Community Pharmacy Scotland is always looking to engage and work in partnership with both local and national political decision makers on those policies affecting healthcare and pharmacies. It was good of Ms McMahon to take an active interest in community pharmacy and to listen to the issues affecting one of the key primary healthcare providers within their local area.”
“Staff from the pharmacy kindly spent time explaining the services provided by all community pharmacies in Scotland. It was useful to demonstrate to Ms McMahon the investment in services and technology that can make a real difference in a community’s health and wellbeing.”
Whilst I join my colleague Kezia Dugdale, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Youth Unemployment, in cautiously welcoming the news that both North and South Lanarkshire will benefit from the Scottish Government’s youth employment strategy fund, it is vital that this money is not just a one-off headline grabber, but is invested in a sensible way to produce employment opportunities over a sustained period.
Last week’s latest round of unemployment statistics once again made for depressing reading, especially in North Lanarkshire, where the latest figures show the claimant count amongst 16-24 year-olds (those claiming jobseekers allowance) is now at 10.1%, up from 9.4% this time last year, and well above the Scottish and UK average.
Under this SNP Government Scotland has become locked in a downward spiral of unemployment, with women and young people bearing the brunt of the crisis. Last month North Lanarkshire Council, in common with other local authorities such as Falkirk and South Lanarkshire, announced significant investment in projects to get local people into work.
Following the publication of its Youth Employment Strategy I urged the Government to learn from the employment initiatives being launched by local authorities. Instead, on the day on which Youth Unemployment Minister Angela Constance described youth unemployment as “endemic”, we learned that the Government’s own careers advisory agency, Skills Development Scotland, plans to cut 10% of its staff across Scotland, with 60% of those cuts to key frontline workers in North Lanarkshire.
This will mean that school leavers in North Lanarkshire will receive less face to face careers advice, and flies in the face of the Scottish Government’s stated commitment to addressing youth unemployment in Scotland.
The International Children’s Games has drawn to a close, and been hailed a great success by all involved.
ICG President Torsten Rasch was fulsome in his praise, stating that Lanarkshire ”deserves a gold medal for presenting an oustanding childrens’ games.”
For three days children from across the globe competed in a variety of different sporting events, exhibiting skill, desire, enthusiasm and passion. Not even the wet weather could dampen the competitive spirit! The standard throughout was extremely high, and I am glad to report that Lanarkshire experienced considerable success.
In athletics Lanarkshire Boys’ 4x100m relay team won gold whilst Alec Thomas won silver in the boys’ 100m. Mhairi Hendry won silver in the girls’ 8oom with Emma Frame taking bronze in the girls’ long jump.
Meanwhile, Lanarkshire’s boys football teams carried all before them, racking-up a series of double digit victories before beating Sparta of Greece 4-1 to claim gold in the final, whilst Lanarkshire’s girls lost 2-0 to Seoul of South Korea in a close fought final to take silver.
In the golf, Innes Ferguson took gold and Fraser Innes took bronze, and Sebastien Potter, Ryan Ferrey, Neil MacDonald, and Gavin Logie all won bronze medals in the boys’ judo, with Amy Dougan and Michelle Boyle claiming gold in the girls’ event.
Last (but not least!) Emma Christie took bronze in the girls’ 200m backstroke. Full results can be found on the official ICG website.
However, despite the high standard throughout, it was the spirit of warmth and togertherness surrounding the games which made a lasting impression. All the performers acquited themselves well on that score, as did the local populace, who went out of their way to welcome competitors, coaches, and spectators alike.
I have always believed in the power of sport to inspire and unite, and the success of these games has only strengthened that belief. All the children involved excelled themselves, and I have no doubt that the courage and commitment they have shown will serve them well in the years to come. Now we must work to create an enduring legacy around these games, and ensure that children across Scotland have equal access to the coaching and facilities that will give them a chance to compete in years to come.
I was delighted to be able to invite my local hero, Pat Donnelly, to the Official opening of the Scottish Parliament.
A committed trade unionist, Pat was a Branch Official at British Steel OTCG in Clydesdale from 1977, and led the local union through a takeover in 1994. He has also served on the National Executive Council of the Iron and Steel Federation.
Pat has long been active in local in local politics: first as a Strathclyde Region Councillor, representing Coatbridge South between 1986 and 1995; then as a North Lanarkshire Councillor, representing Calderbank, Bronnsburn and Cairnhill between 1995 and 2007.
In addition to this, Pat served as Chairman of the board of learning and support provider Communitas, which has helped over 22,000 people access training, advice and guidance at work or following redundancy.
Now retired, Pat remains engaged in politics and trade unionism, representing local people in workplaces in his area as a volunteer regional representative of Community.
Throughout his life, Pat has worked tirelessly, and always for others, rather than himself.
He is a true local hero.
Hello, and welcome to my new website.
Over the next few months I will use this site to provide regular updates on my work as a Labour Party MSP for Central Scotland. Please feel free to respond to any of the news stories posted, and I will do my best to get back to you.