23 Sep 2008

Hugh Henry article in Paisley Daily Express 10 June 2008

Lies, damned lies and statistics

The public generally does not have a high regard for politicians.

But the current SNP/Liberal Democrat administration is clearly trying to set new records for fiddling figures.

I have just received a letter from Councillor Eileen McCartin (Liberal Democrat) justifying library closures and trying to explain why the four libraries were chosen.

She says "The libraries concerned borrowed very few books from their libraries, and very little use was being made of their computers" (Councillor McCartin’s words).

Yet when I checked the figures, they tell a different story.

Todholm library had more than 2,000 books issued compared to Ralston Library.

Yet Ralston library is to stay open.

Again Todholm library had nearly 1,200 more computer bookings than Ralston library, yet Ralston is to stay open.

Could it be because Ralston is regarded as a Liberal Democrat area?

Now I am not suggesting Ralston library should close, but there is clearly something far wrong if this is how the Council decided on Library closures.

The public deserves some honesty on this.

It’s not too late for the SNP and Liberal Democrats to admit they have made a mistake.

Epilepsy Nurses

More than 40,000 people in Scotland have epilepsy.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that more people are being diagnosed.

Epilepsy can be a terrifying condition for carers and for somebody having a seizure.

But as they learn what happened to them and understand the condition they can usually move forward much stronger.

And if people are given the right treatment and the right information they can have a normal life.
But people will need more support at the time of diagnosis.

Epilepsy can affect employment, travel, family life and independence.

That’s why specialist epilepsy nurses are so important.

People who see a specialist nurse have better access to information which is tailored to their specialist needs.

Epilepsy nurses empower people to get on with their lives.

But we don’t have enough of them.

Based on guidelines there should be three times as many as there are.

That’s why I’m backing the Epilepsy Scotland campaign for more specialist nurses.

If you back this campaign, write to your MSP.

For further information log onto http://www.epilepsyscotland.org.uk

Sun tan dangers

We are still obsessed with having a sun tan.

Too many people still take risks during the summer and believe that slapping on lotion and lying out to fry in the sun is somehow healthy and desirable.

The recent tragic and untimely death of Tommy Burns from skin cancer is a stark reminder of the dangers this disease can bring.

And to compound the problem too many people dive into sunbed parlours with no thought to the consequences.

My colleague Ken Macintosh has been campaigning on the dangers these parlours can cause.

He has proposed a Bill to the Scottish Parliament to bring in new regulations for the sun bed industry.

The Scottish Parliament’s Health Committee has agreed to extend new controls on sunbed parlours to the sale or hire of sunbeds.

Not only will there be a ban on unstaffed premises, an age restriction of 18 will be applied to the sale or hire of sunbeds as well as to using sunbed parlours.

It can’t be right that children as young as ten can access these parlours.

Nor can it be right that anyone can use these unattended machines on our high streets without supervision.

Skin cancer is on the rise in this country and it’s one disease that we can actually do something about.

Carers Week

Last week saw the annual recognition of the role carers play in our society.

I am pleased that this year, particular attention has been given to the role played by young carers.

Here in Renfrewshire, the Renfrewshire Carers’ Centre has always highlighted the significant contribution made by young carers.

This is now being taken up across Scotland.

The Young Carers’ Festival in September will be an opportunity for young carers to relax, and also put across their views to the people who make the decisions.

I’m sure Renfrewshire will be well represented.

New Address

I’ve had to move office. If anyone wants to write to me, please take a note of my new address, St James Business Centre, Linwood Road, Paisley, PA3 3AT . My telephone number remains the same 0141 848 7361