MSP shows support for those affected by heart disease

9 February 2017

North East Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald showed his support for people affected by heart and circulatory disease at the British Heart Foundation (BHF) Scotland parliamentary exhibition last week.

This was an opportunity to learn more about the number of local people affected by heart disease in the North East and to find out how BHF Scotland is helping to save and improve the lives of people affected by heart and circulatory disease.

Lewis Macdonald said :

“Heart and circulatory disease affects thousands of people in Aberdeen and the North East.

“Across the Aberdeen and Dundee areas, 16,333 people have survived a stroke, 30,579 are living with coronary heart disease and 6,699 have heart failure. The BHF funds vital research and provides support and information for all those affected by heart and circulatory disease and their families.

“Research is vital if we are to continue making great strides in preventing, diagnosing and treating heart disease in the North East and across Scotland.”

James Cant, Director of BHF Scotland, said:

“Coronary heart disease is still our single biggest killer, and these figures show that there is no part of the country that is untouched by heart and circulatory disease.

“That’s why we’re currently investing £63 million in research in Scotland. Since 1961 we’ve helped halve the number of Scots dying from heart and circulatory disease.

“We were delighted to meet Lewis Macdonald at the Scottish Parliament, and share this important information about the risk factors in the North East, and the numbers of people affected by these devastating conditions.

“Thanks to BHF research, we can offer them hope for the future.”

Macdonald condemns major trauma centre delays

12 January 2017

Lewis Macdonald has condemned the SNP’s admission that Scotland’s planned trauma networks, including major trauma centres at Aberdeen and Dundee, have been delayed by at least three years.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon made the announcement today on a visit to Dundee’s Ninewells Hospital.

Lewis Macdonald said today:

“This is hugely disappointing for everyone who relies on the NHS in Scotland, and particularly for people in Aberdeen and the North East.

“Nicola Sturgeon intervened personally to promise that Aberdeen would have a major trauma centre when she came to the city at the very end of last year’s Holyrood election campaign.

Now we are learning that plans for that major trauma centre have been pushed back a further three years.

“The SNP originally pledged that the major trauma centres at Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow would be operational by 2016.

Then they promised that all the preparatory work would be completed by the end of last year.

"Now we are learning we are actually going to have to wait until at least 2020 before we have the major trauma facilities we need to save lives.

“This will have a damaging impact on the morale of doctors and nursing staff at Foresterhill, many of whom have already worked hard to ensure plans for Aberdeen’s major trauma centre went ahead.

“Nicola Sturgeon and Health Secretary Shona Robison have some serious questions to answer about their handling of this issue from start to finish.

"It is high time that the SNP kept their promises to the people of Aberdeen and the North East, and delivered the major trauma centre they promised the day before the last election.”

No surprise Aberdeen HMRC staff intend to quit - MSP

10 January 2017

Commenting on the National Audit Office report on Managing the HMRC Estate, Lewis Macdonald MSP warned that the closure of Aberdeen’s HMRC office will have a “damaging impact” upon the city.

The NAO report found that “HMRC expects a high proportion of staff exits from its offices in Aberdeen, and to a lesser extent Dundee, as their work moves to Edinburgh regional centres.”

Lewis said :

“It is no surprise that the National Audit Office report published today expects staff from Aberdeen to leave HMRC rather than disrupt their families and move to the Central Belt.

“The team at Aberdeen has a great deal of specialist knowledge and experience in relation to the oil industry and business taxation. This will all be lost if the tax office in Aberdeen closes its doors, as the current Tory Government plans will happen by 2021.

“There is still time for Tory Ministers to reverse their damaging decision and retain an HMRC team and office in Aberdeen.

“If they refuse, the loss of experienced staff will have an impact on the finances of thousands of businesses and individuals, as well as ending the public service contributions of a significant number of highly-skilled and committed professional people.”

MSP calls for new paramedics to work in Grampian

20 December 2016

North East Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald has called on the Scottish Government to take action to prevent further shortages of paramedics in the Grampian region.

Following recent media reports regarding staff shortages on recent shifts, and concerns expressed by members of the GMB and Unite unions, Lewis Macdonald has written to Health Secretary Shona Robison MSP to call for urgent measures to be taken to ensure that Grampian has enough paramedics on duty.

Lewis said :

“The news that the Grampian region often faces a shortage of paramedics will be a cause of great concern to members of the public.

“It is vital that SNP Ministers take urgent action to address this shortage and to ensure that there are enough paramedics working in Grampian to serve the needs of the region.

"Shona Robison announced in July that an extra 200 paramedics were to be trained across Scotland, and I have written to her today to urge her to ensure that a significant number of these are trained and employed in Grampian.

"More paramedics are needed across the country, but nowhere more so than in Aberdeen and Grampian.

"The Scottish Ambulance Service is a nationwide service, and it is essential it is able to meet the needs of every region

Macdonald calls on Ministers to support hydrogen buses

13 December 2016

North East Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald has urged the Scottish Government to give its financial backing to a European project that would see more hydrogen buses on the streets of Aberdeen.

Aberdeen City Council’s Finance Committee has already given its support to the Joint Initiative Hydrogen Vehicles Across Europe (JIVE) project, having agreed to provide £2.5m in funding. However, the project can only go ahead if the Scottish Government is willing to provide an additional £3m.

Lewis said :

“Aberdeen is leading the way in Scotland in the use of hydrogen buses, and the JIVE project is an excellent opportunity to ensure that we have more of these cleaner vehicles on our streets.

“Support from the Scottish Government is vital to the success of this project, and I have written to Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse to urge him to ensure that the necessary funds are provided.

“This is a great opportunity for Aberdeen City Council and the Scottish Government to work together on a project that will benefit Aberdeen, and which could serve as a blueprint for other cities in Scotland seeking to use more environmentally friendly vehicles.

“I hope that Ministers will appreciate the potential of this project and give it their backing.”

MSP welcomes Big Lottery Funding for Aberdeen

North East Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald welcomed the news that two Aberdeen-based projects celebrating the benefits of migration have received funding through the Big Lottery Fund’s Celebrate programme.

The Polish Association Aberdeen will use their £3,700 award to host a series of events celebrating the history and culture of Poland, while Sunnybank Community Centre Association has been awarded £4,925 to support a project celebrating the cultures of people living in the area.

After tabling a parliamentary motion welcoming the announcement, Lewis Macdonald said today:

“It is great news that two projects which celebrate the benefits of migration for the cultural life of Aberdeen have received funding from the Big Lottery Fund.

“The news is particularly welcome today, as MSPs debate the benefits of migration to Scotland at the Scottish Parliament, in recognition of International Migrants’ Day on December 18.

“Both the Polish Association Aberdeen and Sunnybank Community Centre have done great work in their respective communities to make people moving to Aberdeen from other countries feel welcome.

“This support will allow them to continue that good work, and to continue celebrating the benefits migration has brought to Aberdeen.”

Motion tabled by Lewis Macdonald welcoming Big Lottery Funding for the Polish Association Aberdeen and Sunnybank Community Centre Association

That the Parliament congratulates the members of the Polish Association Aberdeen and the Sunnybank Community Centre Association on receiving awards from the Big Lottery Fund’s Celebrate programme; understands that the Polish association has been awarded £3,700 to support a series of events in the city to celebrate and commemorate the history and culture of Poland, and that the community centre association will receive £4,925 toward a project celebrating the many cultures of the people living in the Sunnybank area; welcomes the work that both organisations do to celebrate the positive effect that migration has on Aberdeen and Scotland as a whole, and commends everyone involved in organising events to recognise and celebrate the cultures of people who have made Scotland their home.

SNP performs U-turn on flagship prison policy

11 December 2016

North East Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald has today criticised the SNP for U-turning on its policy for housing young offenders. It follows a letter the MSP received from Scotland’s Justice Minister.

When HMP Grampian opened in 2014, it was claimed that it would be a community-facing facility that would help rehabilitate young offenders by keeping them in close contact with their families.

However, following riots at the prison over two years ago young offenders were transferred to the HM Polmont Young Offenders Institute in Falkirk, and that has not yet been reversed.

They were meant to be housed at Polmont on a temporary basis but now Scotland’s Justice Minister Michael Matheson has indicated in a letter to Lewis Macdonald that the move is permanent.

Lewis Macdonald said:

"When HMP Grampian first opened it was heralded with great fanfare as a prison that would be community-facing. It was said that it would allow young offenders to be near home so that they could keep in close contact with their families and as a result improve their chances of rehabilitation.

"It would now appear that the SNP have performed a complete u-turn on their original policy for housing young offenders. Keeping them at Polmont means they have access to a wider range of services in prison but it will make it harder for them to keep in touch with their families in the North East.

"Research suggests that, if young offenders are in close contact with their families, they are more likely to be rehabilitated and reintegrated successfully into their communities on release. This will mean fewer crimes being committed, and it will also give these young people a second chance. I am sorry the SNP has seen fit to change its policy on young offenders from the North East in what appears to be an entirely off-hand way."


Oil Workers should not have to use redundancy money to repeat training

6 December 2016

North East Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald has today called on the Scottish Government to support action to make it easier for workers from the oil and gas industry to move into the offshore wind sector.

The call comes as MSPs are due to debate the future of Scotland’s Renewables industry in the Scottish Parliament.

RMT have previously reported that oil and gas workers are being forced to use their redundancy money to repeat training that they have already done so they can make the transition into the offshore wind sector.

Lewis Macdonald said:

“It is deeply frustrating for workers made redundant as a result of the current downturn in oil and gas to be told that their hard-earned offshore safety certificates are not recognised by marine energy employers, even for aspects of the job which are virtually identical in both sectors.

“Safety standards set by Opito in the North Sea are recognised worldwide in offshore oil and gas. Unemployed oil workers who want to make their own transition to renewable energy should not have to spend precious redundancy payments on repeating training they have already done, simply in order to tick a bureaucratic box.”


NHS Grampian needs support to meet waiting time targets

1 December 2016

North East Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald today called on the SNP to focus on the NHS rather than plotting another independence referendum, as new figures revealed that 8,848 patients in Grampian waited longer than 12 weeks for treatment.

New figures from Labour show that 53,257 patients across the whole of Scotland waited longer than 12 weeks for treatment despite an SNP law which 'guarantees' faster treatment. The Treatment Time Guarantee came into force in October 2012. At the time the Scottish Government said: "The Treatment Time Guarantee will ensure that eligible patients start treatment within 12 weeks of the treatment being agreed."

Lewis Macdonald said today:

"Since 2012, 8,848 patients waited longer than twelve weeks for treatment. In fact, the last few months have been the worst on record. And these aren’t just statistics. It’s pensioners in need of a knee replacement having to wait for months and people waiting for eye surgery, facing delay after delay.

"While Labour Party activists in Aberdeen and the North East were out last weekend campaigning on the NHS with staff and patients, the local SNP were only talking about independence.

"It’s no surprise the SNP don’t want to campaign on the NHS because here’s their record; local services facing closure, missed targets, and a growing workforce crisis.

“NHS Grampian has been underfunded for years, and this has an impact on the health board’s ability to meet waiting time targets imposed by SNP Ministers. The Scottish Government urgently needs to address this underfunding or patients and their families will continue to pay the price.

"Under the SNP the NHS is stuck in the waiting room while Nicola Sturgeon plots a second referendum."

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Lewis welcomes Vattenfall Aberdeen Harbour Board deal

30 November 2016

North East Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald has welcomed the news that Vattenfall has signed leases with Aberdeen Harbour Board to establish an onshore base to support the commissioning of the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) in Aberdeen Bay. Lewis said :

“The EOWDC is a fantastic opportunity for the North East, and will lead the way in developing new technologies for offshore windfarms.

“The news that Vattenfall has now signed a deal to become the first offshore wind operator to establish a base in Aberdeen is good news for the city and for the region’s plans to diversify its energy industry.

“Offshore wind has huge potential in Scotland and the EOWDC will play a major part in reaching that potential.”

No assurances over North East university funding from SNP Ministers

24 November 2016

North East Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald has criticised SNP Ministers for failing to give assurances that Aberdeen and Robert Gordon universities will not be hit again by funding cuts in the next financial year.

The two city universities were among the four hardest hit by the Scottish Funding Council grant settlement this year. Aberdeen University and RGU both saw a cut in teaching grants and research funding of 3.9% in the current financial year, amounting to an overall reduction of £3million for the University of Aberdeen and £1.4million at RGU. The University of Dundee also saw a cut of 3.9% (£2.6million), as did the University of Edinburgh.

Lewis Macdonald said :

“Shirley-Anne Somerville told Parliament today that next year’s funding settlement will be a “challenging” one for some universities, at what are “challenging times for the North East”.

“These words will be heard with great concern by universities in Aberdeen, as the Minister for Higher Education appears to acknowledge the challenge to come but gives no undertaking about protecting universities in the North East despite the wider economic issues facing the region.

“Aberdeen and Robert Gordon universities have been hit hard this year by the cuts imposed by the Scottish Funding Council on behalf of the Scottish Government, and both have had to cut teaching staff as a result of this loss of funding. Only recently Aberdeen University revealed that Medical School staff could face compulsory redundancies before Christmas.

“All our universities face an uncertain few weeks, until they find out their funding settlement for 2017/18.

“It would simply not be acceptable for North East universities to bear the brunt of funding cuts two years in a row. I will continue to press SNP Ministers for a commitment that Aberdeen and Robert Gordon universities will have the funding they need to support staff and students going forward.”


Still time to see sense over control room closure says MSP