No Answers from SNP Government to Drop in LFASS Payments

Scottish Conservative MSPs quizzed the SNP Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing during a Ministerial Statement in the Scottish Parliament earlier today.

The Cabinet Secretary used his third statement in as many weeks to announce another post-Brexit farming consultation, and to lay out some of the SNP Government’s plans for Scottish agriculture.

Fergus Ewing also alluded to the cap to LFASS payments mandated by the EU Commission, which will see LFASS payments set to 20% of current levels in 2020.

Shadow Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Donald Cameron MSP said:

“While we welcome the consultation announced by the SNP Government, who have finally come up with some kind of plan for future farming support, the speed of progress to this point has been glacial at best, and ignores the need to address the immediate concerns of farmers and crofters in Scotland’s more marginal areas.”

“The Scottish Conservatives will scrutinise the consultation document in detail, and we will continue to challenge the SNP Government to produce a tangible plan so that our farmers have some certainty over their future.”

Scottish Conservatives Farming Spokesman John Scott MSP added:

“When I asked Fergus Ewing how he intends to address the drop in LFASS payments from £65m to £13m in 2020, he had no answers.”

This support is vital to their continued existence, as food producers as well as being the day-to-day custodians of our environment and landscape.”

Concern as Record Number of Absences Hit NHS Highland

Concerns have been raised following news that the number of absences affecting NHS Highland has hit a record high.

The statistics, released by NHS Scotland’s ISD service show that the sickness absence rate for the year 2017/18 was 5.19%.

Records for individual health boards were first collected in 2011, when the absence rate for NHS Highland was just 4.8%.

The news coincides with the announcement that the amount of money spent by NHS Highland on bank and agency staff has rocketed past the £8m mark – a record high for the health board.

Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron said:

“Our NHS staff work phenomenally hard to meet the growing demand for our health service, and NHS Scotland needs to do all it can to support its staff and work to reverse the clear growing trend of absence in the service.

However, it is abundantly clear that despite promises to tackle spending on locum staff, the SNP are failing to manage the workforce crisis in the NHS, and instead of recruiting permanent staff to meet demand, NHS Highland are being forced to shell out more on bank and agency staff to plug the gaps.

Instead of spending all their time planning for another unwanted independence vote, the SNP need to get a grip of this crisis and fix the Scottish NHS.”

Calls for Perjeta to be made available on Scottish NHS backed by Donald Cameron MSP

“Women in Scotland should be able to access the life-extending breast cancer drug Perjeta just like women can in England and Wales”, so says Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron.

The campaign to make the drug Perjeta available in NHS Scotland has been driven by the charity Breast Cancer Now Scotland.

Donald Cameron MSP joined secondary breast cancer patient and Perjeta Now campaigner Jen Hardy at Holyrood to support the charity’s petition calling for the manufacturer Roche, the Scottish Government and the Scottish Medicines Consortium to work together to agree a deal to finally make Perjeta routinely available on the NHS in Scotland.

Perjeta, taken in combination with Herceptin (trastuzumab) and docetaxel (a chemotherapy drug), is a first-line treatment for patients with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer.

It gives patients with incurable breast cancer nearly 16 additional months of good-quality life, on average – compared to the alternative treatment option of trastuzumab and docetaxel alone.

While it has been the standard of care in England for over four years, Perjeta has been rejected three times in a row by medicines approval body the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) as it is not considered cost-effective.

Following a meeting at the Scottish Parliament last Wednesday between patients, MSPs, the Scottish Government and Roche, it was announced that the drug company intends to make a new application to the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC), for Perjeta to be considered for NHS use in Scotland.

Donald Cameron MSP said:

“It is a travesty that women with incurable breast cancer living in Scotland are still missing out on a life-changing drug that is now routinely available in other parts of the UK.

The precious extra time that Perjeta offers could mean the world to patients. It’s the hope of being able to see their children grow older or spending another Christmas with their loved ones.

That’s why I’m supporting Breast Cancer Now’s campaign to make this drug available to women in Scotland and would encourage local people to do the same”

Donald Cameron MSP Leads Discussion on Improving Accessible Transport

Scottish Conservative MSP Donald Cameron has led a roundtable discussion involving campaign groups from across Scotland on the issue of accessible transport.

The meeting, which was attended by the Minister for Transport and the Islands Humza Yousaf MSP, was set up following a meeting Donald had with a local constituent who raised concerns over lack of accessibility to buses in the Lochaber area.

While it is widely recognised that much has been done over the years to make public transport more accessible, local groups highlighted various issues with public transport that remain a problem for people with visible and non-visible disabilities.

Donald Cameron MSP said:

“It was a pleasure to host this meeting of organisations from across Scotland, and especially the many who came from the Highlands, who all have one thing in common – to make Scotland’s transport network more accessible.

A number of important issues were raised today, and I am sure that the Transport Minister will have had a lot of food for thought ahead of the SNP Government’s proposed Transport Bill.

It is vital that when we consider how to improve Scotland’s transport infrastructure for the future that we proactively include the views of those with visible and non-visible disabilities so that we get it right for all of our citizens.”


Donald Cameron MSP Welcomes Commitment to Introduce Franks Law

Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron has welcomed the news that legislation to implement Frank’s Law in Scotland has been given the go ahead by MSPs, almost a year after the campaign was launched at Holyrood.

Frank’s Law was named after former Dundee Untied footballer Frank Kopel, who passed away at the age of 65 having suffered from dementia for many years, but was too young to qualify for support.

The new laws will allow those who are under 65 and suffer from conditions like dementia to receive free personal care.

His wife Amanda has spearheaded the campaign, and the Scottish Conservative MSP Miles Briggs helped lead the campaign in Parliament with a Private Members Bill.

Holyrood’s Health Committee today gave the legislation the green light, with a pledge by the Scottish Government to introduce it in 2019.

Donald Cameron MSP said:

“I am delighted that Frank’s Law has been passed by MSPs and now it is up to the SNP Government to deliver on that mandate.

Local people from across Lochaber who are under 65 and suffer from conditions like dementia will now be able to benefit from free personal care, and the burden of the cost of care will for the most part be alleviated.

This is a step in the right direction and I look forward to seeing Frank’s Law finally come to fruition”.