Legislative Programme

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 11:55 am on 16th June 1999.

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Photo of Mary Scanlon Mary Scanlon Conservative 11:55 am, 16th June 1999

Those are examples of measures in health and drugs where there is no need to score points, as we are all committed to curing-or attempting to cure-and to addressing the scourge of drugs in our society. I thank Mr Raffan for his intervention. I have already said that I will be pleased to support him on that issue.

On the subject of waiting lists, the message that I have been given by medical practitioners is that we should stop treating headline figures and interfering with professional clinical judgment by dealing with minor cases so as to reduce waiting lists, while major operations must wait.

The British Medical Association has already flagged up the issue of junior doctors to us. It is regrettable that the Government has decided to block the reduction of hours and that we are now, for the first time in Scotland in many years, facing industrial action by committed professionals in the health service. I am pleased that the Minister for Health and Community Care said yesterday that she was seeking an early meeting with junior doctors.

Much has been said today about social inclusion. As a representative of the Highlands and Islands, I am concerned, as I am sure many other members from the Highlands are, that one indicator for allocating national health service resources is the deprivation index. One of the criteria for that index is car ownership, which assumes that car owners have some wealth. In the Highlands and Islands, a car is not a luxury, but a necessity. Indeed, the costs of owning and using a car and high fuel prices cause deprivation in other parts of the household budget. I therefore ask the Minister for Communities to address the deprivation index when she considers NHS resources for rural areas, the criteria for which should be quite different from those for urban areas.

Turning to public health, I am pleased that our poor record of chronic heart disease has been mentioned, but it undoubtedly needs to be addressed by the Executive. I also ask ministers to consider more support and education for families of cardiac patients.

Last week, I was told that we had become a nation of spectator rather than participative sportsmen. This week, I heard on the news that Kenny Dalglish has had to go to Bulgaria to find new football players. Why is he not going to Dundee, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh?