24 Jun 2013

Paisley Daily Express - 24 June 2013

Rare Diseases

I want to thank Alison Gregg from Johnstone who I met recently at the Disability Resource Centre in Paisley. The reason I want to thank Alison, is that she reminded me that society shouldn’t overlook people just because they have disabilities or infirmities. Alison has a rare disease that now limits her mobility and she explained to me that people with rare diseases are often overlooked and neglected. Rare Disease UK has found that many people living with rare diseases (and their families), often have to go through years of medical tests and procedures before an accurate diagnosis can be made. They then struggle to find out the medical impact of a condition and how to manage it. All this and having to cope with day to day life without adequate support.

Alison is a remarkably determined woman. She isn’t just interested in herself. She wants to help others in a similar situation which is why she asked me to highlight the issue of rare diseases. She also took the opportunity to remind me of the excellent support provided by the Council run Disability Resource Centre in Paisley. If you know someone with a rare disease, then why not contact Rare Disease UK to find out what is being done, and what support is available. In the meantime it’s up to politicians to push for greater help and support. Once again, thank you to Alison Gregg.

Dog Microchipping

It’s sometimes surprising the issues which attract the interests of my constituents. The microchipping of dogs is one of them. My constituents make a number of valid points. Microchipping can deter dog theft which is still a problem. But it would also help with the real problem of stray dogs which can often cause fear and alarm. It could help to ensure a dog’s swift return to its owner and this would reduce the real financial pressure on those who then have to look after lost or stray animals. Microchipping could also help to ensure that the owners of dangerous dogs are held to account. Compulsory microchipping is already in place in Northern Ireland, and England and Wales are looking to do this in the next couple of years. The Dog Trust has offered to chip a dog for free, so why is the SNP Government dragging its feet on such a simple issue?

Border with England?

There are many questions which Alex Salmond can’t or won’t answer when it comes to the consequences of Scotland separating from the UK. I recently received an answer (of sorts) to a question I put to Alex Salmond’s Government about the border between Scotland and England if Scotland left the UK. I asked if the Scottish Government could guarantee that there would be no border controls between Scotland and England. The Scottish Government refused to give a guarantee. Instead it said it would “negotiate” to maintain an open border. In other words it doesn’t know. Yet again we are being asked to buy a pig in a poke, with no answers, no certainties,. We are being told, “Trust Alex Salmond, everything will be alright”. Surely we should know before we vote whether we will have to go through a border check whenever we drive to England?

Health Visitors

It’s a real joy, but also a real challenge, in bringing up a child. Sometimes for newer parents there is the worry that they are not doing everything right or that something is wrong with their child that they don’t understand. Families are important to back up and help. So too are health visitors. Health visitors can provide reassurance and support. They can also offer expert advice and can sometimes help to identify potential problems at an early stage. I want to see stronger legislation which will establish and confirm a real commitment to a universal health visiting service. The Scottish Government has the chance to make that commitment and I hope it will listen to the voices of experts who know what a difference a health visitor can make.