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Summary

  1. The Health Committee will take evidence on the preventative agenda and then on NHS National Waiting Times Centre.
  2. MSPs quiz ministers on topical questions
  3. The Scottish government gives a ministerial statement on forensic examination
  4. MSPs debate the highly controversial Railway Policing (Scotland) Bill
  5. Labour MSP Pauline McNeill leads a debate entitled ‘Food Banks, Scotland’s Hunger Crisis

Live Reporting

By Craig Hutchison and Colin Bell

All times stated are UK

Trusell Trust figures:

  • more than 145,000 packages to people in crisis in 2016-17 
  • 9% increase on the previous year  
  • 47,955 children in Scotland helped with three day food supply last year  
  • 24% of those referred to the charity had suffered benefit delays
  • 18% encountered difficulties with benefit changes.  

Emergency Food Supplies in Scotland

The Trussell Trust
The Trussell Trust
The Trussell Trust

Background: DWP defends UC system

The Trussell Trust runs 52 food banks across Scotland
bbc
The Trussell Trust runs 52 food banks across Scotland

A spokesman for the DWP defended the Universal Credit system, which collapses all benefits into one and is being rolled out across the UK.

He said: "Employment is the best route out of poverty, and there are now near record numbers of people in work in Scotland.

"Under Universal Credit, people are moving into work faster and staying in work longer than under the old system.

"Universal Credit is designed to mirror the world of work and give people control over their own finances.

"The majority of UC claimants are confident in managing their money and we work closely with local authorities to support those who need extra help.

"Budgeting support, benefit advances, and direct rent payments to landlords are available to those who need them."

Background: Ken Loach accuses government of 'conscious cruelty'

Ken Loch blamed benefits sanctions introduced by the UK government for the rise in foodbank use
bbc
Ken Loch blamed benefits sanctions introduced by the UK government for the rise in foodbank use

Speaking at the STUC congress in Aviemore, film director Ken Loach accused the UK government of "conscious cruelty" by imposing benefit sanctions which he claims have led to an increase in the use of food banks.

His I, Daniel Blake film told the fictional story of a man denied employment and support allowance.

Mr Loach said: "When the sanctions increased, the use of foodbanks increased. If your money stops and you are dependent on social security, you haven't got a large bank account like Tory cabinet ministers - you have got nothing.

"And very shortly people have to take very tough choices - how do they survive? Often they don't eat.

"Last year there were figures that nearly half a million children eat because people put extra tins in a collecting bag - that cannot be right."

Trussell Trust Case study Case study: Alex, from South Lanarkshire

Alex turned to the food bank after his driving licence was taken off him
Trussell Trust
Alex turned to the food bank after his driving licence was taken off him

Alex told The Trussell Trust's You Tube channel that he hit difficulties when he returned to Scotland from New Zealand after his marriage broke up.

He said: "I'm a former Olympic athlete, I'm a former British champion, I've had my own businesses, I've had several businesses, and then all of a sudden everything came crashing down.

"If it hadn't have been for the food bank I'd have been in real big trouble [and] I wouldn't have been eating. I was on the brink. I was in a bad way."

He added: "All the people in the food bank were fantastic, they were really nice, they were really helpful and that was one of the reasons I wanted to give my time as a volunteer.

"It's a great feeling knowing that you're helping people [and] if we didn't have the food bank people would have nowhere to go, nowhere to eat. If it wasn't for the food bank I probably wouldn't be here."

Background: Scottish government view

Foodbanks
bbc

The Scottish government said it was working to help people affected by welfare cuts and low incomes.

A spokesman said: "A range of actions are needed to stop people having to rely on emergency food provision.

"The Scottish government has taken such action through our £1 million a year Fair Food Fund and more than £100 million a year to mitigate against welfare cuts, including our Scottish Welfare Fund.

"We have also made significant investments in a range of services to support people on low income and to tackle the underlying causes of poverty including investing in affordable housing, increasing free childcare, promoting and paying the real living wage."

Background: Trussell Trust says food parcel numbers hit new high

Foodbank
Getty Images

The number of emergency food parcels handed out by food banks in Scotland hit a record high last year, according to new statistics.

The Trussell Trust says its food banks provided more than 145,000 packages to people in crisis in 2016-17.

It marks a 9% increase on the previous year - a trend the charity blamed on benefit payment problems and low incomes.

The UK government said the reasons for food bank use were "complex".

Read more here.

Labour MSP uses motion to says there is a hunger crisis

Ms McNeill uses her motion to says the number of people in Scotland experiencing hunger is at crisis level.

The Labour MSP says  figures from the Trussell Trust suggest more than 100,000 visited its food banks in the last year.

Foodbanks
Thinstock

As there are many charities and organisations providing such services, the number of families relying on these will be far higher says the Labour MSP.

Ms McNeill condemns the benefit cuts and "unfair sanctions that are being imposed by the UK government"

She calls for sustained and improved access to emergency financial support through the Scottish Welfare Fund.

Here is the motion for the 'Food Banks, Scotland's Hunger Crisis' debate

The motion for the debate
Scottish Parliament

'Food Banks, Scotland's Hunger Crisis' debate

Foodbanks
bbc

Labour MSP Pauline McNeill will now lead a debate entitled 'Food Banks, Scotland's Hunger Crisis'.

Decision time

MSPs vote on the general principles of the Railway Policing (Scotland) Bill. 

Background: Scots railway policing merger plan 'massively complicated'

Police chiefs have warned that integrating railway policing into Police Scotland would be "massively complicated".

The Railway Policing Bill will push forward devolution of law enforcement powers.

This would include the functions of the British Transport Police being taken over by Police Scotland.

Police bosses told Holyrood's justice committee that a merger would be "complicated but not insurmountable".

Representatives from BTP, Police Scotland, the Scottish Police Authority, and the Scottish Institute for Policing Research took part in a round-table session with MSPs at the Scottish Parliament last Novemeber

Justice Committee
bbc

Absorbing transport policing into Scotland's single force has been a long-running goal for Justice Secretary Michael Matheson.

The BTP itself wanted to continue providing the service, but with oversight from Holyrood instead of Westminster after devolution, and three railway unions came out against the plan.

But the Scottish government said integration would "ensure the most efficient and effective delivery of all policing in Scotland".

A Railway Policing Bill was announced in the latest Scottish programme for government, which would complete devolution of policing and put in place funding arrangements for integration.

Read more here.

Background: BTP chief warns of Police Scotland merger skills loss

BTP Chief Constable Paul Crowther told MSPs there might be a "real challenge" replacing senior staff
bbc
BTP Chief Constable Paul Crowther told MSPs there might be a "real challenge" replacing senior staff

The chief constable of British Transport Police has warned plans for a merger with Police Scotland could lead to a loss of specialist skills.

Paul Crowther told Holyrood's justice committee of a "real challenge" in replacing officers amid a "significant outflow of expertise".

He told MSPs of the bomb threats, fatalities and near-death incidents officers often have to deal with.

Police Scotland has called the merger plan "complex but not insurmountable".

Read more here. 

Police Scotland's ACC says there will be a number of 'bespoke' specialist officers

Police Scotland's Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins acknowledged there was a "risk that the skill base will be diluted", but added that "it's my job to make sure that doesn't happen".

He said railway training will eventually form part of the basic training for all Police Scotland officers, saying this would result in "17,000 officers with the skills to operate within the railway environment", alongside a smaller number with "bespoke" specialist skills.

ACC Bernard Higgins said having two years to integrate BTP into Police Scotland was "frankly a luxury"
bbc
ACC Bernard Higgins said having two years to integrate BTP into Police Scotland was "frankly a luxury"

Mr Higgins said that while officers could "potentially" be redeployed in the case of a major incident, there would "absolutely" be a specialist transport policing unit and those transferring in from BTP would have the right to remain policing only the railways until they retire.

Meanwhile, committee convener Margaret Mitchell pointed out that railway policing officers elsewhere in the UK are trained to carry tasers, while in Scotland only specialist firearms officers are armed with them.

Mr Higgins said he would have to "assess the threat within the wider rail network" to see if it was "appropriate" to continue to allow railway policing staff in Scotland to carry tasers after the merger, while finding "the best way to mitigate threat". 

Background: Justice Committee report into Railway Policing Bill

The target date for integration  of railway policing into Police Scotland is 1 April 2019.

The justice committee report noted there was "willingness to work collaboratively to meet" this "deadline", but said railway operators, unions, staff associations and passenger groups should be brought together as soon as possible "to ensure what any risks are identified and mitigated prior to integration".

ScorRail train
PA

It also said the committee heard that the costs of railway policing could increase as a result of integration, but that "it had not yet been determined what these costs might be or who should pay them".

The report highlighted that agreement of terms, conditions, benefits and pensions of BTP staff and officers had not yet been reached, saying that "resolving this issue is critical to achieving a seamless transfer".

Members also said it was "imperative" that forces were clear about their roles and responsibilities policing cross-border trains.

Background: MSPs disagree about Railway Policing Bill

Of 11 justice committee members, seven backed the general principles of the Railway Policing Bill, with four dissenting.

They pointed out that BTP had proposed three options for devolving railway policing, noting concerns about the Scottish government's decision to only consult on one option - the option the force had outlined as "the most complex route".

Committee convener Margaret Mitchell, who was among those against the bill, said members had heard "a variety of opinions about the best approach for railway policing".

Margaret Mitchell
bbc

She said: "The committee did not arrive at a unanimous position on the bill's general principles, with some members backing an alternative approach.

"The committee report made a number of clear recommendations to ensure that the same level of service that the travelling public currently enjoys is maintained.

"These include the recommendations that strong procedures should be in place to manage cross-border issues, such as the powers of officers to carry out their duties as they travel between Scotland and England, and also that officers must be clear on operational issues such as the use of Tasers and the powers of arrest.

"All members agree that protecting the travelling public is of the utmost importance."

Background: Railway Policing (Scotland) Bill

The Justice Committee has backed the general principles of a bill to integrate railway policing north of the border into Police Scotland.

The Scottish government wants the national force to take over the role of the British Transport Police (BTP).

The majority of respondents to the committee opposed the integration, as did four MSPs, including the convener.

cops
PA

The Scottish government has long wanted to integrate railway policing services into the single national force, and tabled a bill to that end in December 2016.

The Railway Policing (Scotland) Bill would confer extra powers on the Scottish Police Authority and the Police Service of Scotland, but further legislation would be needed at Holyrood and Westminster to transfer staff, properties and cross-border policing functions.

MSPs will now debate the Railway Policing (Scotland) Bill for the first time

BTP
bbc

MSPs will now debate the Railway Policing (Scotland) Bill at Stage 1, before begin asked to back its general principles at decision time.

Background: Report says services for rape victims 'unacceptable'

Report says services for rape victims 'unacceptable'

An independent watchdog has strongly criticised the treatment by the NHS and police of victims of sexual assault.

The inspector of constabulary (HMICS) said services offered to some victims were "unacceptable."

The review said they lagged behind the rest of the UK, with many victims being examined in police stations.

The Scottish government said it was establishing a group to improve the responses to victims of rape or sexual assault.

The report, a review of forensic medical services provided to victims of sexual crime in Scotland, examined how victims of sexual crime receive medical attention while forensic evidence is also gathered for possible prosecution.

Read more here.

Background: New standards set for forensic testing of rape victims

In February we reported forensic standards are to be introduced to improve examinations of victims of sexual violence.

They will ensure the way victims are treated - and evidence gathered - is the same across Scotland.

Ministers said it was important to ensure a consistent and sympathetic service to support victims.

The Scottish government said more female doctors were needed to examine rape victims
Thinkstock
The Scottish government said more female doctors were needed to examine rape victims

The government has also launched a survey to find why few female doctors have been willing to be involved in forensic examinations.

It followed claims that some rape victims in the Northern Isles do not report it because they have to travel, without washing, to the mainland for forensic tests.

Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) will produce the new standards to ensure best practice is applied when examining victims following a rape or sexual assault - including the conditions and way examinations are handled.

Read more here.

Background: Call for rape examinations action in Orkney and Shetland

Some rape victims in the Northern Isles do not report it because they have to travel to the mainland without washing for forensic examination, it was claimed in January.

Rape Crisis Scotland is calling for specialist facilities to be made available in Orkney and Shetland.

Support workers say it would spare victims the ordeal of travelling by boat or plane under police escort.

rape victim
SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

The Scottish government said forensic facilities were being reviewed.

Rape Crisis Scotland said the lack of forensic examination facilities in Orkney or Shetland was adding to the trauma women had already suffered.

Read more here.

Topical questions

MSPs quiz ministers during topical questions.

Time for Reflection

Today's time for reflection comes from Jemma Skelding, a pupil at Falkirk High School and a British Sign Language user.

Jemma, whose first language is BSL, is thought to be the youngest-ever contributor to time for reflection. 

She has an interpreter with her in the chamber who will translate her words from BSL into spoken English. 

Background: NHS Scotland waiting time target missed

Surgeon
Thinkstock

In February we reported there had been a further decline in the number of NHS patients who begin treatment 18 weeks after referral, figures have shown.

Figures up to the 31 December 2016 show 83.8% of patients started treatment within 18 weeks - a fall from 87.1% in December 2015.

The Scottish government's waiting time target is for 90% of patients to start treatment within that timeframe.

Opposition parties have criticised the government for the missed targets.

Read more here.

Background: Plans for Scotland's first lung transplants being considered by ministers

The first minister said the Scottish government was considering the request from surgeons
bbc
The first minister said the Scottish government was considering the request from surgeons

A request from surgeons to be allowed to carry out lung transplants in Scotland for the first time is being considered by the Scottish government.

The Golden Jubilee National Hospital in Clydebank is currently the only heart transplant unit in the UK which cannot also offer lung replacement surgery.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said ministers were investigating whether the proposal could go ahead.

The Golden Jubilee is celebrating 25 years since its first heart transplant.

A decision on lung transplants is expected be made next year.

Read more here.

Golden Jubilee Foundation

The committee will now take evidence on the NHS National Waiting Times Centre

MSPs will hear from:

  • NHS Waiting Times Centre chief executive Jill Young
  • NHS Waiting Times Centre director of finance Julie Carter
  • NHS Waiting Times Centre  medical director Mike Higgins
  • NHS Waiting Times Centre  director of operations June Rogers
Golden Jubilee National Hospital
bbc

The  National Waiting Times Centre board is also known as the Golden Jubilee Foundation.

The foundation has four key partsl

  • the Golden Jubilee National Hospital
  • the Golden Jubilee Innovation Centre
  • the Golden Jubilee Conference Hotel 
  • the Golden Jubilee Research Institute.   

Read more here.

And we're off......

The Health and Sport Committee will now take evidence on the preventative health agenda.

Committee convener Neil Findlay introduces the witnesses: 

  • Dr Una MacFadyen, a consultant paediatrician at Forth Valley Royal Hospital and a representative of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
  • Emilia Crighton from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde
  • Dr Margaret McCartney, a general practitioner
  • Dr Helene Irvine, a consultant in public health medicine

Read the written submissions from the witnesses here.

Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh submission

Royal College of Physicians
Royal College of Physicians

In its submission, the Royal College of Physicians says: "Preventative spend is relevant to the current Realistic Medicine agenda and its focus on the overuse of investigation, treatment and potentially unnecessary interventions. 

"The evidence base for various universal screening programmes and preventative measures could be scrutinised to assess whether they are effective, both in terms of cost and preventing disease, with consideration given to discontinuing those which fail this test."

Read more here.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Preventative Agenda Inquiry submission

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Preventative Agenda Inquiry
Scottish Parliament

Read more here.

Call for investigate breast screening and health checks

GP consultation
Science Photo Library

Dr Margaret McCartney uses her submission to says the following should be investigated: 

  • Breast screening - now being dismantled in Switzerland. There is a lack of high quality evidence that it delays death and it does cause overdiagnosis as a consequence
  • Health checks - there is no evidence that using Keep Well to do health checks results in improvements to health that would not have occurred with usual GP care
  • Media campaigns to promote screening - are expensive, and do unintended harms - for example, promoting cervical screening rather than informed choice about cervical screening   

Read more here.

Call for a thorough review of national breast screening programme

Public health medicine consultant Dr Helene Irvine uses her submission to say: "With the exception of the primary immunisation schedule in pre-school children, no area should be exempt from scrutiny or regarded as sacred and beyond thorough review, and subsequent downgrading, limiting (ie targeting) or even scrapping if justified by the evidence."

breast screening
Science Photo Library

Dr Irvine goes on to say: "We now need to prioritise responding to the genuine needs of patients in real time (e.g provision of high quality health and social care to the elderly) over the theoretical potential to prevent problems in the future (most secondary prevention schemes and many health improvement initiatives), unless that preventive measure is highly cost effective (eg health protective policies such as the ban on smoking in public places, minimum alcohol pricing, etc)."

The consultant calls for a "thorough review is the national breast screening programme (in Scotland, the SBSP). 

Read more here.

Background: Preventative agenda

Remit

To seek evidence on and analyse preventative spend through a series of short inquiries on specific health-related topics.

Background

Previous consideration of preventative spend/ preventative agenda can be found in the following documents:

Money in a bed pan
Science Photo library

Initial Approach

The Committee will hold an initial evidence session where the main features and pitfalls of using preventative spend as a means of scrutinising expenditure on health can be outlined.

On Friday 3 February the Committee issued a general Call for Views from any interested organisations or individuals. The call for views closed on 28 February.

The Health and Sport Committee begins shortly

The Health and Sport Committee will begin by taking evidence on the preventative health agenda.

MSPs will take evidence from: 

  • Dr Una MacFadyen, a consultant paediatrician at Forth Valley Royal Hospital and a representative of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
  • Emilia Crighton from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde;
  • Dr Margaret McCartney, a general practitioner
  • Dr Helene Irvine, a consultant in public health medicine.  
Health care professionals
bbc

The committee will then take evidence on the NHS National Waiting Times Centre

MSPs will hear from:

  • NHS Waiting Times Centre chief executive Jill Young
  • NHS Waiting Times Centre director of finance Julie Carter
  • NHS Waiting Times Centre  medical director Mike Higgins
  • NHS Waiting Times Centre  director of operations June Rogers

Good morning and welcome to Holyrood Live

Good morning and welcome to Holyrood Live's coverage of the Scottish Parliament on 9 May 2017.

The Health Committee will take evidence on the preventative agenda from hospital consultants and GPs.

It will then take evidence on the NHS National Waiting Times Centre.

Day's business collage
bbc/PA/Thinkstock

After topical questions, there will be a ministerial statement on forensic examination.

MSPs will then debate the controversial Railway Policing (Scotland) Bill.

Labour MSP Pauline McNeill will then lead a debate entitled ‘Food Banks, Scotland’s Hunger Crisis'.