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Portfolio Health


Cigarette machine ban delay A ban on cigarette sales from vending machines has been deferred due to ongoing legal challenges. The ban was due to be in place by 1 October. “Two legal challenges against the vending machine sales ban have already been dismissed, however, in view of appeal proceedings, we feel it is prudent to defer the ban from the original implementation date to a date to be announced,” Public Health Minister Michael Matheson explained.

Cleft palate research The University of Dundee is to lead a major European research initiative into craniofacial abnormalities and associated health inequalities in Europe. “This work means that for the first time a major effort will be made towards the ultimate scientific and humanitarian objective - primary prevention of orofacial clefts,” said Professor Peter Mossey, Associate Dean for Research in the university’s Dental School.

Breast awareness

Nine out of ten women are not aware that a change in the appearance of the breast is one of the major signs of breast cancer, a new survey has found. The third annual breast cancer survey by Breakthrough Breast Cancer in Scotland also found that four out of five were not aware that breast pain could be a symptom of the disease and half do not check their breasts regularly.

Stroke prevention

A new campaign to improve stroke prevention, treatment and care in Scotland has been launched by the Stroke Association in Scotland. The “Agenda for Action for Stroke in Scotland” sets out key areas where further improvements are required, such as increasing public awareness, continuing provision of speedy and good quality acute treatment and rehabilitation for all stroke patients.

Reforms prompt retirement

Over half of GPs planning to retire in the next two years will do so because of the NHS reforms, according to early findings from a BMA survey. The survey, which was sent to every GP in the UK, received more than 18,000 responses. “These results show that GPs have significant concerns about the Government’s NHS reform plans as they stand,” said Dr Laurence Buckman, chair of the BMA’s GPs’ Committee.

Care crisis summit

Labour has called for a summit on the “crisis in care” in Scotland.

Scottish leader Iain Gray, pressed the First Minister for assurances and urgent action. “The First Minister held a cabinet summit on the UK Supreme Court this week but surely he must realise a summit on the crisis in care is more urgent.”

46 Holyrood 13 June 2011

like short breaks have made and the critical importance of that to them.” However, there are as many stories as there

are carers, and so it is important this vital feedback continues to be sought. As part of this, the Scottish Government has proposed holding an annual Carers’ Parliament so as to allow politicians and civil servants to hear first hand the real-life experiences of carers from all walks of life. Burke is cautiously optimistic about the

creation of a Carers’ Parliament, saying, “all of the blocks are there”, but adds the detail remains to be seen. In the longer term, however, she says she

would also like to see the creation of a Carers’ Champion within the Cabinet. “To have that as a voice and a link, because

carers cross so many policy strands and ministerial briefs - there is housing, there is education, there is health, there is welfare, employment – a whole range of issues, so to have a voice for carers within the Cabinet so that issues are cutting across all those ministerial briefs would certainly be useful.” Te Scottish Government has also

already declared its intention to continue to take forward its Carers and Young Carers strategies, which were published last summer. Again, Burke says she is “optimistic” about progress so far, and says the implementation and monitoring group will ensure the strategy “isn’t something that is static that sits on the shelf.” Tis, she says, is hugely important to carers. “It does have a life and for carers involved in

that, that is all really positive,” she adds. However, while Dave Clark, centre manager,

Glasgow East End Community Carers, says it is difficult to argue with the sentiments expressed by the Government, he urges them to make the rhetoric reality. “In my experience, the elected members

all say the right things. It is difficult to argue with anything they have in the carers strategy or the young carers strategy. “But the reality is that making that strategy

a reality needs resource and the resources don’t, in my experience, get to the front line. And that is a real constant worry for us.” In the East End of Glasgow where the

centre is based there are around 12,000 unpaid carers, Clark says, and there is a high demand for support and advice. “Of the 12,000 carers, we have about 1,000

who have at some point been supported by the centre and on an ongoing basis, we are probably supporting something like, including young carers, 180; which is a bit of a case load for two and a half support staff posts.” To avoid letting these individuals down, Clark says government must be clear about

Florence Burke

the services they want to be provided, adding that there is no point in making promises to carers if it is not possible to meet them with the funds made available. However, he stresses this is a message for all of the political parties in Scotland. “No matter what colour of government

has been in Holyrood, carers’ strategies and the commitments from government of all complexions and the policies they’ve put in place have been impossible to argue with. But it is about controlling the resource. Very often the council will say, ‘We don’t have enough funding to provide that service’ and then our lobbyists go to the Government and they say, ‘No, we gave the councils sufficient money,’ and it is about tracking where the resource goes. And they are not very good at that, I think.” Tis is a historic issue, he adds. “Even when you had a Labour administration in Glasgow and a Labour administration in Holyrood, they still would argue so it is not a party political thing. But that is, for me, fairly basic that they have to be clear about what you want to give carers and make sure the resources are there, that lets people like us provide the services that carers need.” While concerns evidently remain about

the future, Burke says it is nevertheless a “thrilling” time to be working with carers and they are determined to make the most of the current mood of government. “Tere is so much happening but the thrill

is seeing if it makes a difference because I think we are all aware that we can be active doing things - we can be active responding to consultations, we can be active going to meetings - but the end result has to be what is the outcome for the carers and the best part for us is when you see the difference it has actually made. “...So there is lots going on and there are

so many opportunities, we just need to make sure we seize those opportunities and make a real difference.”

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