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RHODA GRANT: This has been a unique and surreal month in the world of politics with the mini-budget exposing how the 'economic illiterate' Tories are not on the side of working people

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Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant.
Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant.

This column was written and published prior to the news that Kwasi Kwarteng had resigned as Chancellor

This past month has been a unique and surreal month in the world of politics.

Kwasi Kwarteng announced a mini-budget that showed whose side the Tories are on – and it’s not the working people! Only to U-turn days later because their economic illiterately crashed the economy.

It is quite clear that Liz Truss now leads a lame duck Government. Across the UK, there is a majority for change and change is coming with Labour. Labour is demonstrating that it can win the next general election and Scotland will play its part in delivering the change we all need.

More locally, this month we saw NHS Highland agree to bid for £5m from the Scottish Government to improve the maternity and neonatal infrastructure at Raigmore Hospital. This will allow more women from Moray to give birth at the Inverness hospital. This investment is welcome but I still have serious concerns about the policy.

I am concerned that all mum’s giving birth at Raigmore will be impacted and that the Scottish Government will not carry out their promise to instate a consultant-led maternity unit at Dr Grays Hospital in Elgin.

I fear – should Raigmore become a permanent solution – what will become of those women travelling long distances to give birth at Raigmore. Having a new and upgraded maternity unit at Raigmore is not going to solve these problems and instead the Scottish Government should provide maternity services closer to home whether that be in Elgin or Wick and I will continue to voice my opinion on this.

As many of you will know, there are many third sector organisations in Highland who provide NHS services and thus receive funding from the NHS to do this. These organisations tell me that they have had no real uplift in funding in years but the amount of those depending on these service is increasing.

NHS Highland have stated that there is a high risk of not breaking even this financial year. This has understandably shaken the third sector who not only depend on NHS funding to deliver a service but are already struggling to make ends meet because of rising costs.

I have raised this generally with NHS Highland as it is vital that the third sector is paid fairly for providing a statutory service. I hope to get some positive reassurance.

To end this column on a positive note, I’m calling for individuals and organisations from Highlands and Islands to represent the area in the co-design of the National Care Service (NCS).

Applications are now open for individuals and organisations to join co-design panels and play a part in designing this new service. I believe that local representation is important so that the unique geography of the Highlands and Islands is considered. More information on this can be found on the Scottish Government website. Hopefully with local input we can make this change meaningful rather than another centralisation.

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