18 Jun 2012

Paisley Daily Express - 18 June 2912

Olympic Torch
I don’t think that Lochwinnoch has ever seen such crowds or excitement. The atmosphere to welcome the Olympic torch and flame was fantastic. It wasn’t just Lochwinnoch residents who turned out. School children from across Renfrewshire were out in force and in the case of St Antony’s from Johnstone, the whole school was there. This was a day which those youngsters will remember for the rest of their lives.
Congratulations to everyone involved in helping to make it a really memorable day.

Legionella Outbreak
The recent outbreak of Legionella in Edinburgh is a stark reminder of just how easy it is for such outbreaks to have a huge and devastating impact on the local community. It’s exactly because of such threats, that we have stringent Health and Safety rules. It’s worrying to hear that the UK Government has been cutting back on the numbers of Health and Safety inspectors. We need to ensure that rigorous checks are being carried out to keep us all safe. And it’s not just a UK Government problem. Alex Salmond has been cutting back on investment in local councils. In some areas Councils are having to reduce the number of Environmental inspectors. I want the Scottish Government to learn the lessons of what happened. There needs to be a wide ranging enquiry to make sure we have the highest possible standards of public safety.

Breast Implants
Many women all over Scotland, including here in Renfrewshire, have been affected by faulty breast implants. Sometimes the media tries to portray this as simply cosmetic surgery without understanding the reasons which can lie behind the surgery. In any case, when a woman has such significant surgery, she should be guaranteed that both the products and the process are of the highest standard. And of course this should apply to any implant surgery whether it’s hip replacement or any of the many processes which are now an everyday occurrence.
We make sure that there is lengthy and rigorous testing of drugs before they are released for public use. Why then do we have lesser standards for implants of any description?
In the case of these women, some private clinics were happy to take the money, but seem more reluctant to face up to their responsibilities. Last week Scottish Labour called on the Scottish Government to have a full public enquiry into what has gone wrong. We need to make sure that there is a proper review of implant surgery.
Above all the women affected deserve justice. I know from listening to determined campaigners, that they won’t stop until justice has been delivered.

Apprenticeship Con
Scottish Labour supported the appointment of a dedicated Government Minister to tackle the serious challenge posed by youth unemployment.
Indeed we had called for this before Alex Salmond had decided to act.
So what has this minister been doing in her time in office? Well last week we found out that the Scottish Government is trying to con the public in what it claims it has achieved. Scottish Labour has obtained figures which show that the Scottish Government is not helping young unemployed people into apprenticeships at the level it has claimed.
Over 10,000 publically funded apprentiships have been given to people already in work. They are just rehashing the title for those in a job.
Four out of ten apprentiships went to people who had been in their job for more than 6 Months. Now, I support skills development and need to help young people in work to improve their skills and qualifications.
But please don’t try to claim that you are giving the young unemployed the apprentiships when you are not. There are over 100,000 unemployed young people in Scotland. So far the one success story in the creating a job seems to have been for the Minister.

Diabetes Week
Last week was designated as Diabetes Week. It was an opportunity for groups and volunteers across Scotland to raise the profile of diabetes in their community. It also gave them an opportunity to highlight their campaign work, including “Putting Feet First”. This campaign is calling for high quality and accessible diabetes foot care. Scotland already leads the way in the UK in relation to diabetes foot care.
Unlike other areas, the number of diabetes related amputations has fallen over the years.
We now have a system of foot screening and this is beginning to deliver for people with diabetes. Unfortunately too many people still don’t understand the link between foot disease and diabetes. Diabetes UK Scotland is promoting the “Touch the Toes Test” This is a quick and easy test designed to assess the sensivity of your feet and can be done at home. More information can be found at www.diabetes.org.uk or phone 0141 245 6380.