Tuesday June 8th 2021
It was an honour to be elected as an MSP for the South of Scotland, a region which includes Gorebridge, Newtongrange and Penicuik. As someone who grew up in Midlothian, going to school in Lasswade, it’s a privilege to be able to serve the communities close to where I grew up.
I was also recently asked by Scottish Conservative Leader Douglas Ross to become the Shadow Mental Health and Social Care Minister as part of his team at Holyrood. As a new MSP, I am excited by the prospect of getting stuck into many issues which will affect the lives of many residents in Midlothian.
One of these is the clear link between poverty and poor health outcomes. As I said in my maiden speech in Parliament this week, poverty is “a stubborn stain on the character of modern Scotland”. It is simply unacceptable that we cannot break the cycle which results in four generations in some communities left unemployed with little prospects and no purpose within the society that exists around them.
Many of our poorest residents live with chronic health conditions, others experience the misery of drug or alcohol misuse – and record numbers suffer mental health issues. Poverty and poor health are the result of policy failures by a succession of governments – including my own party as well as Labour and now 14 years of SNP rule in Scotland. The costs of these failures, both for the individuals and society, are simply too great for the new Scottish Parliament to ignore.
This week at Holyrood we debated the Covid health recovery. But we should not kid ourselves that everything was in a good place under Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP before the pandemic. Scotland has the worst rate of drug deaths in the Western world.
Across Scotland, over 2,000 children and young people are waiting over a year to begin vital mental health treatment. Within NHS Lothian, over a third of young people are not being seen within the target treatment time of 18 weeks for Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services. And, even before Covid, the SNP’s Waiting Times Improvement Plan was falling apart.
In the election, my party was clear about the urgency of the challenge – and I welcome the SNP’s commitment to an NHS Recovery Plan. But their Ministers must act urgently, or it will be too little too late, because the cost of missed diagnosis and cancelled operations due to the Covid pandemic is already very real.
I look forward to serving Midlothian residents and am keen to engage and happy to help. Please do get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.orgTweet Share on Facebook