Angus & Mearns Liberal DemocratsWorking Year Round for Angus, Mearns & Stonehaven

By davidmay

Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP for the North East, Mike Rumbles today criticised the Scottish Governments failure to address shortages of mental health staff which has resulted in the interim closure of the Mulberry Unit at Stracathro Hospital.

Mr Rumbles expressed particular concern over criticism directed at NHS Tayside, who have been hit particularly hard by the national shortage of staff.

Mr Rumbles said:

“I am frustrated that those with the Cabinet Secretary for Health’s ear have chosen to attack NHS Tayside rather than the SNP Administrations failure to address the shortage of mental health staff in Angus and across Scotland.

“The closure of the Mulberry Unit will force mental health patients and families from Angus to travel into Dundee for treatment and to visit their loved ones. The shortage of junior doctors and mental health professionals is being felt acutely here in Angus and the buck stops with Cabinet Secretary for Health and the Minister for Mental Health, not the struggling board of NHS Tayside.”

From:: David May

By davidmay


As a local councillor and a member of the joint board for Angus Health and Social Care partnership it is now clear to me that the shortage of appropriately trained staff is the reason for the this interim closure of the £20 Million Mulberry Unit at Stracathro which was only opened in December 2011. This can laid at the door of the Scottish Government Health Minister and she and her predecessor, who have failed to recruit an adequate number of mental health staff. I have already heard from Angus residents that this so called interim closure have expressed they concerns that this will lead to a permanent closure as there can be no guarantee that approriate staff can be recruited.

Angus residents are rightly and clearly appalled at this threat as closing the facility has an impact on crisis help in Angus as well as community-based care. It is obvious that even a temporary closure will mean additional travel and costs for many patients and staff, and support from family and friends for patients will be more difficult. I have also have concerns that any threat to the Mulberry unit also impacts on the Susan Carnegie and Stroke units at the hospital, which share staff and the health minster must take action to stop this.

The closure of local mental health units such as the excellent Mulberry Unit totally inconsistent with the 20/ 20 vision of the SNP government to treat people at home or as near to home as possible and may force people in our Angus rural communities to travel unnecessary distances to receive the treatment they need.”

“There is no doubt that the SNP are again letting Angus down as yet again we are facing cuts to our service.”

Mike Rumbles, Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP for the North East has joined me in accusing the Scottish Government of “washing their hands” of their mental health failures, passing the buck to cash strapped Tayside Health Boards and this has led to the so called interim closure of the Mulberry unit

Mr Rumbles said: “It is absolutely unacceptable that the Minister for Public Health has chosen to pass the buck
for inadequate mental health services to our NHS Boards such as the Tayside one.

“The underfunding of mental health services continues to be an issue, with the Scottish Government only providing
an additional £150 million over the next 5 years. That’s £30 million a year between 14 health boards. Acute services in NHS Tayside will receive just £381,033 per year, and that’s just not good enough!

“The SNP Government needs to accept responsibility for mental health and commit to serious investment to ensure our
communities receive the service they deserve.”

From:: David May



Changes to the school week

By davidmay

There was a report on the children and learning council committee yesterday on changes to the school, week in Angus and despite the report which we were given I still have grave reservations about them.

One of the reasons given for this changein the school week to have an early close in Fridays was the much lauded activities that pupils could get involved in. One of the points for the change was made about the very useful skills the young people would acquire which would serve them in future employment and the range of sporting and volunteering experiences

However, it seems that not only will there clearly be a shortage of these activities and opportunities there are emerging real concerns from parents and communities about what happens to the numbers of pupils that do not take part.

There is also the question of who pays for these youngsters to take part in activities in for example Angus Alive and it seems that the parents will foot the bill, and there is also a question abut where will the staffing come from to organise this.

I highlighted before about who is going to monitor this and I still have concerns about this.

Lastly in this model which has been devised I would be interested in how the consultation was done

From:: David May



Ward issues

By davidmay

In the last week I have been following up on various constituents issues and connected the appropriate council officer about them. These have included bins on pavements, rural bin collections, blocked drains, gutters full of weeds and the damage at the entrance to Hillside.

From:: David May



Damage to entrance to Hillside.

By davidmay


I was contacted earlier today about the mess made by a vehicle both in knocking down a post and badly damaging the grass at the entrance to Hillside and made a point of seeing it for myself. I have no information of when it happened or what happened, but if anyone who has information, if they have not done so already, to contact the police directly by phone or via their e mail address Alternatively they can contact me.
I have been in touch with the police and our council roads department about the mess made.

From:: David May



Murray Lane Montrose.

By davidmay


On my way to a meeting with Val Cooper at the YM, I am delighted to see the progress in the changes to Murray Lane which has been difficult for some elderly, disabled and others to get along.

Although the work has not been completed I am aware that the path has been hugely improved while preserving the cobbles, and is much easier to get along for pedestrians.

From:: David May



The road going north after the Borrowfield roundabout

By davidmay

I was contacted about near accidents with vehicles travelling north after the mini Borrowfield roundabout, as it seems that some drivers are not sure which lane to be in when approaching the traffic lights.

Consequently, I was in touch with a senior council officer about this and he indicated that he would get this investigated and raise the issue at the December meeting of the Angus Area Traffic Co-ordination Group

Since the meeting he has informed me that he will provide additional signage and road markings to advise north bound traffic approaching the light-controlled junction of the lane designation. The proposed signing will provide advance notice of the road layout ahead and additional road markings at the junction itself will inform motorists as to what lane is to be used dependant on their intended direction of travel.

I hope this will help drivers to get into the right lane and as a result avoid possible accidents.

From:: David May



Montrose Royal Infirmary

By davidmay


There have been concerns in the town for some time about the long term future of Montrose Royal Infirmary and it seems to be the case that the capacity has been reduced and apparently there has been recent staffing issues.

The response to these concerns from an official of Tayside Health Board to the concerns is “I would like to reassure the public that the GP ward at Montrose Infirmary remains open and that there are sufficient staffing resources available throughout Angus to continue to provide safe and high quality patient care in Montrose. We have been reviewing staffing levels at Montrose Infirmary to enhance nurse cover and to ensure that safe, efficient and effective rostering practices are being employed.

It is clear to me as a councillor and local resident that there are huge advantages in having the GP managed hospital beds with high quality nursing support locally available and I am aware of the benefits this can give patients, especially at this stage of their life as it means the GPs can support them and their families at this stage in their lives of increased frailty for some very , vulnerable patients.

The quality of the care that is given to the patients in our infirmary is second to none and I have heard massive compliments about their staff for the support they give

From:: David May



Borrowfield mini-roundabout

By davidmay

I made contact with the traffic officer at the council as concerns have expressed to me, which I agree with, about this roundabout and the number of near accidents as cars going north often move so far across that they almost hit some cars turning left.
The response I received was as follows “concerns raised regards the mini-roundabout at Newhame Road were discussed at the December 2016 Traffic Co-ordination Group meeting. A check of the Angus accident database has been carried out and this confirmed that there have been no reported road accidents at the location in the last 3 year.””
At the Traffic Co-ord meeting, colleagues from Police Scotland confirmed that they were not aware of any issues regards traffic problems at the roundabout. It was agreed by the Group that the existing roundabout layout be retained; however it was recommended that additional advance warning signage be considered to advise drivers heading north of the lane designation ahead.”
“I will arrange for an additional sign to be provided on North Esk Road to advise north bound traffic, in advance, as to which lane they should use at the roundabout depending on their intended direction of travel.”
I am pleased that some action is being taken to help lessen the problems but I suggest that drivers make a point of contacting the access office in Montrose if they still have problems so that there is a record.

From:: David May

By davidmay

John Swinney under fire as pupils fail to meet primary literacy and numeracy goals

MORE than one-quarter of Scottish pupils fail to achieve expected levels of literacy and numeracy by the time they leave primary school, damning new figures show.

In a further blow to Education Secretary John Swinney, the study shows that in reading, the proportion of pupils achieving the relevant level decreased throughout primary from 81 per cent in P1 to 72 per cent by P7.

Performance in writing declined from 78 per cent in P1 to 65 per cent in P7 while attainment in numeracy dropped from 84 per cent to 68 per cent.

The figures led to the Scottish Government’s record on school education to come under renewed fire.

It came after ministers published statistics highlighting the proportion of children considered by their teachers to be performing at the required levels under the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE).

They showed a stark gulf between pupils in rich and poor areas, with only 54 per cent of children from the poorest areas in the final year of primary school meeting the standard of writing expected compared to 78 per cent of those in the wealthiest areas.

However, the statistics showed an improvement in secondary school, with the proportion of S3 pupils achieving appropriate levels in all areas recorded as above 80 per cent.

The publication comes a week after it emerged Scotland’s schools had recorded their worst-ever performance in the latest Programme for International Student Assessment figures, run by the OECD.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has already said she wants to be judged on her achievement in closing the attainment gap between rich and poor.

The Scottish Conservatives said differences between figures published for individual councils showed the “massive issues” facing the implementation of CfE.

Liz Smith, the party’s education spokeswoman, said: “It’s clear from these figures that there are massive issues in delivering CfE in some areas of the country and that the confusion surrounding its implementation is starting to have a hugely negative effect.

“There are a number of legitimate concerns about the curriculum and these statistics are further evidence that we need to have proper independent scrutiny of how it is being implemented.”

Iain Gray, education spokesman for the Scottish Labour Party, said the figures illustrated the SNP’s “10 years of failure” on education.

He said: “The SNP’s school shame has deepened with these statistics. Pupils not reaching expected standards in reading, writing and numeracy is a failure in social and economic policy by the SNP government.”
The CfE level data, which has been published for every primary school in Scotland, has been described as “experimental” by Scottish Government statisticians because it is based on the judgments of teachers and is not externally verified.

But Mr Swinney said the introduction of standardised tests would give teachers a national benchmark against which to compare their judgments in future. He also invited parents to use the latest data as the basis of discussions with their schools. He said: “Currently there are inconsistencies in the way young people’s progress is being assessed and reported in schools across the country and the standardised assessments will provide teachers with nationally consistent data to help inform their professional judgment.
“Even taking this into account, the data published today show that significant improvements are required in some local authorities. I would encourage parents to consider the school level information that is now available and discuss it with their child’s school.”

Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland teaching union, said the figures showed the majority of pupils were reaching the expected levels.

He said: “The publication of CfE level data indicates pupils in our schools are performing well overall and that most are at, or ahead, of the expected level for their stage.”

From:: David May

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