Secretary For Scotland's Report for Guild Council Meeting 26.11.2008

Group Meetings
I am not aware of any group meetings having taken place since my last report.

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In the Press
21.09.08 - A bill of rights for NHS patients in Scotland will be unveiled this week, guaranteeing treatment abroad if waiting time targets are missed, full access to information, and the creation of patients' champions.  Every patient will also have the legal right to be told about alternative types of treatment and places where they can have it.

23.09.08 - Patients who cannot be treated within new, legally-binding, waiting-time guarantees in Scotland could be sent overseas for surgery, according to plans by the Scottish Government.  Fears have been raised that placing a legal obligation on health boards to treat patients within a 12-week target could create a "litigation culture" in the NHS when the goal is not met.

7.10.08 - Scottish scientists claim to have developed a "breakthrough" test that could lead to new medication for thousands of multiple sclerosis patients whose condition is currently untreatable. 

Smoking is responsible for nearly nine in 10 cases of lung cancer and a new survey shows that people living in the west of Scotland are 50% more likely to be diagnosed with lung cancer than those in the rest of the UK.  The study of cancer incidence and mortality also showed lung cancer death rates in the west of the country were 50% higher than in the UK.  Experts said the higher levels of smoking and deprivation in that area was the main reason for the gap.

8.10.08 - Top-up payments for drugs not available on the NHS should be allowed exceptionally, not as a rule, according to Nicola Sturgeon, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing and Deputy First Minister in Scotland.

 9.10.08 - The number of patients catching infections on Scotland's hospital wards has fallen, although compliance with hand hygiene rules still varies across the country.  Figures published yesterday revealed dips in cases of clostridium difficile and MRSA.

15.10.08 - A consultation has been launched seeking views from the Scottish public and professionals as the European Union aims to clarify rules on so-called 'health tourism'.  The EU's proposed Patient Mobility Directive seeks to bring together existing European case law to make clear the rules that will apply when EU nationals want to receive treatment in a Member State which is not their home country.

16.10.08 - Pharmacy students at the Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen will be offered training in naloxone administration and resuscitation skills for use in cases of overdose from November 2008.

20.10.08 - Health boards across Scotland are to be given tougher targets to tackle Clostridium difficile.  Nicola Sturgeon told the SNP conference in Perth that NHS boards must reduce the rate of the infection in hospitals by at least 30% by 2011.

Diabetes levels are soaring in Scotland with the highest rise of recorded cases in the UK in the past year.  Britain's diabetic population has risen by more than 167,000 since last year, bringing the total number to almost 2.5 million. The latest increase is more than double the 2006 to 2007 rise of 83,000. Scotland experienced the biggest rise in the UK– 16.7 per cent – partly due to improved recording of cases.

25.10.08 - The increasing role pharmacists across Argyll & Bute can play was highlighted yesterday in a visit from MSP Jim Mather.  Mr Mather visited the Boots Alliance Pharmacy and the Pharmacy Department in Lorn and Islands District General Hospital to gain a greater understanding of the work being carried out by pharmacists and the increasing services and advice they can offer the local community.

27.10.08 - A new action plan to offer care and support to Scotland's cancer patients was unveiled. 'Better Cancer Care' outlines a comprehensive approach and builds on the significant improvements already achieved in delivering cancer services.  The plan highlights how cancer can be prevented, recommends action to encourage people with suspicious symptoms to seek medical advice early, includes more patients within cancer waiting times targets and introduces a new target to ensure that by 2011 all patients - regardless of their referral route - start their treatment within 31 days of the decision to treat.

31.10.08 - Health boards across Scotland are facing swinging budget cuts which are certain to impact directly on core services for patients and staff.  Boards are proposing cuts as a result of lower than anticipated funding from the Scottish government, higher than expected pay settlements and soaring energy costs.

2.11.08 - Health boards are to receive £15 million to help them go green and cut soaring fuel bills, it has been announced.  Health secretary Nicola Sturgeon revealed the Scottish Government was providing direct grants to NHS boards to allow them to invest in new technologies, including renewable energy technologies.

3.11.08 - a report produced for the Scottish Government says wider distribution of naloxone should be considered to prevent overdose among opioid users.

5.11.08 - The Scottish Government said yesterday it would give "careful consideration" to moves by Westminster to allow patients to pay privately for medicines while still receiving NHS care.  The proposals, which will only apply in England and are being put out to consultation until the end of January, overturn the ban on topping up NHS care by paying for drugs not available on the health service, and follow a four-month review by cancer czar Professor Mike Richards.

6.11.08 - Health boards across Scotland are being given extra Government cash to help bring down NHS waiting times.  This year, each board will get a share of £270 million to put into effect an 18 week GP referral to treatment maximum waiting time guarantee for patients by 2011.

9.11.08 - Scottish women will be advised to ditch the contraceptive pill in favour of longer-lasting and more reliable implants and injections, under a revolutionary change to family planning aimed at reducing the rate of unwanted pregnancies.

10.11.08 - Hospitals in Scotland are to trial "fresh air machines" which are having dramatic success in the battle against hospital super bugs.  The machines reduced almost to zero the incidence this year of the c.diff infection in a north-east of England hospital ward which reported 31 cases last year.

13.11.08 - Scottish scientists are working on ways of using blackcurrant waste to help reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease.  The Scottish Crop Research Institute (SCRI), near Dundee, aims to develop food ingredients from protective compounds found in the fruit.

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Scottish Health Service Senior Reps Committee 31.10.08
I attended this meeting where the main topic was the forthcoming ballot on industrial action.

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Review of NHS Production in Scotland
The national review of Pharmacy Production continues. The Service Needs Group has now completed its work and will not meet again. The Project Board met on 13th October but decided that some significant work was still required before the paper would be complete for submission to the Chief Executives Group. A further meeting is to be scheduled once the draft final paper is ready for comments.

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Unite NHS Industrial Action Meeting 18.11.08
I attended the Glasgow meeting to discuss the plans for the day of action on December 3rd.

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Despite assurances from management, Annex R of the Agenda for Change terms and conditions has still not been implemented in Greater Glasgow & Clyde.

I had a long telephone discussion with a member on the draft Job Analysis Questionnaire she had asked me to have a look at.

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I have dealt with a number of member queries and a couple of new membership applications.

Colin Rodden
21 November 2008

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