May is my favourite month of the year – when the weather starts to get a bit warmer and everything starts looking a lot greener.
This will be welcome to everyone after a long, cold and wet winter.
As the summer approaches I look forward to being out and about in the good weather and meeting as many of you as I can at the various shows, galas and festivals across Banff and Buchan.
In Parliament last week I attended two separate briefings by Alzheimer’s UK to discuss improvements to diagnosis, care and treatment for people living with dementia.
I learned that, across the UK, it’s estimated that someone will develop dementia every three minutes.
Across the NHS Grampian area, 7,079 people are confirmed to be living with dementia, with 1,207 of those in Banff and Buchan.
Unlike for English and Welsh constituencies, further data was not available for Banff and Buchan because, I was told, NHS Scotland chooses not to report this information.
All I was able to determine was that the diagnosis rate for Banff and Buchan is likely to be below the national target, so clearly more needs to be done.
Everyone with dementia deserves a timely, accurate and high-quality diagnosis.
Incumbent with that, is also the need for quality support for family and friends.
I will be raising the need for early diagnosis and research into new treatments with UK Government health ministers.
Last week, NHS Grampian announced that face masks would no longer be required in medical settings, one of the last Covid-19 measures to be removed.
This is a welcome sign that the risk from Covid-19 is further diminished.
But vulnerable groups and anxious patients are of course free to continue wearing masks if they choose.
Hopefully, the removal of these restrictions will go some way to help address hospital waiting/turnaround times and increase access to clinicians – including GPs.
I was glad to hear from the Turriff Medical Practice recently that they were starting to add advance appointments to their booking system, and not just what has become known as the ‘8am scramble.’
Ensuring sufficient local public services is all the more important in light of news of further cutbacks to bus services.
Following last week’s Buchan Bus Forum in Mintlaw, I have written to Aberdeenshire Council seeking more information about how these decisions have been made.
I attended the Scottish Skippers Expo last week where fishermen were again asking the SNP to think again on their plans to introduce Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs).
The sea provides employment and prosperity not just to the fishing sector but to the communities in which the industry thrives.
Neither I nor the fishermen are against marine conservation in principle.
But The Scottish Government’s haste to implement their plans with little to no scientific basis or meaningful stakeholder engagement, risks putting our coastal communities and economy needlessly at risk.
Despite being the hot topic at the Expo, SNP Fisheries Minister, Marie Gougeon MSP, didn’t even mention HPMAs in her speech!
It is becoming more and more evident that the SNP simply cannot reconcile the economic and social needs of North East Scotland with keeping their Green coalition partners happy.
Whether it’s our fishing and farming industries, or transport infrastructure, the Scottish Government’s priorities show that is the Green Party’s tail wagging the SNP dog!