Alex Cole-Hamilton takes aim at SNP handling of healthcare on Dundee visit

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has today used a visit to Dundee to call on the SNP to save a local health centre from closure and set out his party's plans for reinvigorating local health services. 

Mr Cole-Hamilton is the only party leader to raise the Ryehill Health Centre closure situation with Humza Yousaf, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care. He has asked that the health secretary steps in to ensure that NHS Tayside taking over the direct running of the health centre is firmly on the table. 

The Scottish Liberal Democrat local manifesto will include pledges to: 

  • Make local authorities mental health champions.  
  • Set an ambition to give every local authority workplace the benefits of a mental health first aider, capable of providing peer support and identifying signs of ill health among colleagues. 
  • Support a preventative approach with more counsellors available for schools.  
  • Participate in the wider system of mental health support to guarantee that there is no wrong door for accessing services and waiting times are drastically reduced. 
  • Campaign for more mental health practitioners for key local settings such as GP surgeries and alongside the police. 
  • Support stronger local health services so that people can get the care they need closer to home. 
  • Back calls for new support for the sufferers of long Covid who have been overlooked by the Scottish Government, including specialist clinics and in-home support.  

After he joined Scottish Liberal Democrat campaigners at the Ryehill Health Centre, Mr Cole-Hamilton said: 

"Two years of Covid-19 and 15 years of SNP mismanagement have taken their toll on our NHS. Scottish Liberal Democrats have a rich history of investing in Scotland’s health, introducing free dental and eye checks, free personal care and recently winning £120 million more for mental health. 

"On the SNP's watch targets are being missed, staff are demoralised and sites such as the Ryehill Health Centre are threatened with closure. That's not good enough. 

"Scottish Liberal Democrats will champion the importance of local health services capable of providing physical and mental support to those who need it. Communities need new hope. They will only get that with the Scottish Liberal Democrats." 

Fraser Macpherson, local councillor for the West End said:

"Closing Ryehill Health Centre would throw a spanner in the works for 4,500 patients.  

"I cannot accept that, after so many years of service to the community, the approach of the Health Board is to simply accept it closes. It must look at the option of running the practice itself to keep it open. NHS Tayside already directly runs four GP practices across Tayside. If it can be done there, it can be done at Ryehill Health Centre. 

"With Scottish Liberal Democrat councillors you will get community champions who fight for you and your local services." 

Cole-Hamilton responds to report on maternal mental health during Covid

Responding to a new report into perinatal experiences during Covid, Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson and leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said:

"This report makes clear that the decision to prevent women from being able to involve their partners at key moments of maternity care was a tremendously tough one for many to take.

"People made huge sacrifices under the guise of preventing the spread of Covid-19. This report makes clear that if such a situation were to arise again there would have to be a careful assessment of the evidence before imposing such strict and draconian restrictions again.

"I have spoken with parents angered that they were forced to obey these rules when the Prime Minister was partying in Downing Street. I hope that no one regrets the sacrifices they made to keep others safe, but I can see why his bad behaviour would be especially tough for people to take.

"As we look to learn lessons from the Covid pandemic, concerns for the practical and psychological impact of these restrictions on pregnant women and their partners will need to be considered. I also want to see a fresh push on perinatal mental health to ensure that support is there for those who need it."

SNP A&E waiting times crisis continues to deepen

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader and health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has today reiterated his call for an urgent inquiry into avoidable deaths caused by the crisis in emergency care.

Public Health Scotland data for the week ending March 27th shows just 68.4% of attendees were seen within the 4-hour target, close to a record low. In addition, 2,627 patients waited more than 8 hours to be seen, and 1,022 waited for more than 12. This represents the most patients ever waiting over 8 and 12 hours in A&E.

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine has warned that there have been 240 deaths since the start of the year as a result of delays at A&E departments.

Mr Cole-Hamilton said:

"Humza Yousaf and Nicola Sturgeon have allowed this crisis to get worse and worse, week in, week out.

“A&E targets were already missed for years pre-pandemic because of poor workforce planning and SNP mismanagement. As the crisis reaches its most dangerous point the SNP-Green government's eyes have wandered away from the crisis and towards the prospect of an unwanted independence referendum.

"Staff are more frustrated than anyone because they have been sounding the alarm. They have been working hard for months and have nothing more to give. Those warnings didn’t stop the SNP-Green Government voting against our calls for an urgent staff Burnout Prevention Strategy.

“NHS patients and staff are in dire need of new hope. We need an inquiry into avoidable deaths connected to the emergency care crisis and new resources to help those on the frontline.”

Cole-Hamilton: Delayed discharges up 57% in a year

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has today called on the Scottish Government to stop their centralisation mission and get to grip with the social care crisis on the ground, as new figures show a 57% year-on-year increase in delayed discharges.

In February 2022 there were 47,713 days spent in hospital by people whose discharge was delayed – up 57% compared to February 2021 (30,450 days).

Census figures also show that the number of people stuck in hospital because they are waiting for a care at home package has almost doubled since last April.

Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP commented:

“The number of people stuck in hospital unnecessarily has more than doubled in a year, showing the pressure and gaps in social care in the community. This is an extremely worrying trend, action must be taken immediately before this gets out of control.

“If the Health Secretary wanted to genuinely help patients and staff, he would focus his time and attention on fixing the problems that make securing care packages so difficult.

“Instead, the Scottish Government are consulting on centralising services, which is years away and already seeing kickback from practitioners across the country. The solution to social care isn’t a centralised ministerial takeover. 

“This is urgent which is why Scottish Liberal Democrats will continue to push ministers to trigger the transformation of staff pay and conditions in this year’s budget. Long-term this should be backed by a Health and Social Care Staff Assembly that puts frontline experience and expertise at the heart of the response to this crisis.”

Only 42% of people with dementia get the support they are entitled to

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader and health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has warned over 10,000 people missed out on the dementia support they are entitled to, after statistics showed a widening gap between uptake and the number of people thought to be newly diagnosed.

Since 2013, the Scottish Government has committed to ensuring that those diagnosed with dementia are offered a minimum of one year of post-diagnostic support from a named dementia link worker.

Public Health Scotland figures now show that 8,144 people were referred for dementia post-diagnostic support in 2019/20. This was only 42% of people estimated to be newly diagnosed with dementia during that period.

Alex Cole-Hamilton commented:

“Dementia has heart-breaking consequences for those diagnosed and their families. A co-ordinated package of support is critical to ensure people with dementia can understand and adjust to their diagnosis. A plan helps people live well with dementia. It will ensure they are accessing the right services and find the best ways to manage symptoms.

“Despite commitment after commitment from the SNP Government, these figures show progress going backwards pre-pandemic. It’s estimated that 19,000 people were newly diagnosed with dementia but just 8,000 were referred for support.

Like cancer patients and young people needing CAMHS, thousands of people diagnosed with dementia appear to be missing out on the help they are entitled to.

“The Health Secretary needs to urgently get on top of this and honour the commitment the government have made to supporting them.”

Cole-Hamilton kicks off council campaign pledging to bring new hope to every corner of Scotland

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has today kicked off his party’s election campaign pledging to bring new hope to every corner of Scotland.

The party is standing 266 candidates, its highest number since 2007. This means that 280,000 more people in Scotland will be able to vote for a Liberal Democrat than in 2017.

The party has already gained two councillors in wards that it did not hold after the 2017 election with Christopher Price in Buckie being the first Liberal Democrat to be elected in Moray since 2003 and John Grafton elected in Caol and Mallaig, Highland.

Launching the campaign, Mr Cole-Hamilton also marked out the Liberal Democrats as the clear challengers to the SNP in Edinburgh, having more candidates (22) than Labour (20) Conservatives (20) and the Greens (17).

Alex Cole-Hamilton said:

“This election is a big opportunity for our party. With the highest number of Liberal Democrats standing since 2007, this is a moment for regrowth and renewal.

“After everything we’ve been through, Scotland needs new hope right now. At the coming council elections, you’ll only find that hope with the Scottish Liberal Democrats. 

“The SNP have been in power for 15 years, starving councils of funds and cutting back on local services. From the capital to the Highlands, it’s time to send them a message that it’s time for a change.

“After two years of pandemic and with people facing the biggest hit to household budgets in a generation, communities need councillors who will work hard for them all year round.

“Over the next five weeks I will be making the case for cutting rail fares, properly funding local government and insulating every home in Scotland to protect people from the cost-of-living crisis and the climate emergency.”

Scot Lib Dems: Time to shake up Scotland’s rail system

Scottish Liberal Democrat transport spokesperson Jill Reilly has today marked the first day of ScotRail being in government hands and said that it is time to shake up Scotland’s rail system by cutting fares and opening up new routes.

Scottish Liberal Democrats are calling for:

  • All peak rail fares to be scrapped for young people 
  • The railcard discount to be increased to 50% for everyone under 30
  • The reversal of the SNP/Green rail fares hike
  • Ticketing options to reflect new models of hybrid working with the option for two/three-day a week season tickets
  • The government to look at routes to Levenmouth, Alloa to Dunfermline, Grangemouth, St Andrews, Borders railway to Carlisle, Peterhead, Edinburgh’s Abbeyhill Loop and South Suburban and other lines where local people have lobbied ministers. 

Ms Reilly said:

“The most important thing about Scotland’s railways being in government hands is that ministers are now directly accountable for the decisions.

“If fares rise, services are neglected and new lines are not explored, there is now no one else to take the blame.

“Public transport usage is still down compared to before the pandemic but with the right policies we can turn that around.

“It is time for a radical shakeup of Scotland's public transport system to make it climate-friendly and respond to the cost-of-living crisis.  

“Young people getting to college or to work don’t have any choice but to travel at the start of the day. For apprentices that can consume as much as a fifth of your wage. We need to revolutionise rail travel ticketing for the post-pandemic world and correct the principles that didn’t work, such as peak fares.

“With energy bills and food prices soaring, the last thing people need is an SNP/Green rail fare hike.

Scottish Liberal Democrats will offer a public transport system that works for all communities, for all ages, and for the climate. That’s why we fares cut and for the government to work with councils to explore new lines, particularly in areas where public transport links are poor.”

Let councils cut business rates to boost local firms

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has used a visit to Sprinkles Ice Cream in Edinburgh to highlight the plight of small business and make the case for giving councils more control over business and economic development.

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Statistics show poverty-related development gap at age 2

Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has responded to official statistics showing development concerns are recorded for 23% of two-year-olds in the most deprived areas, compared to 9% of two-year-olds in the least deprived areas.

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£10m long Covid fund completely unspent after six months

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader and health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP today said the SNP/Green Government has “yet again let down long Covid sufferers” as it is revealed that not a single penny of the £10 million announced by ministers last September has been spent.

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Lib Dems call for a cut to VAT and a cost-of-living rescue plan

With the Scottish Liberal Democrats unable to hold a spring conference due to the emergence of Omicron, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has today used a visit to Peak Scientific, a manufacturer of scientific equipment based near Glasgow to set out proposals to tackle the cost-of-living crisis, including cutting VAT to 17.5% across the UK and scrapping the National Insurance tax hike.

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Alex presses for NHS Burnout Recovery Plan

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader and health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said “patients and staff desperately need new hope” after Audit Scotland reported on the precarious state of the health service and highlighted serious gaps and oversights in the Scottish Government’s recovery plans.

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RIE Parking Update

As a great many people have gotten in touch about the parking at the Royal Infirmary Edinburgh, I wanted to make a post outlining the most recent activity I’ve undertaken to address it.

I organised a meeting with officials from NHS Lothian and other Lothian MSPs to address the current parking crisis affecting thousands of staff at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.





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Fire Alarm Update

I thought it would be helpful to briefly outline my thoughts on the interlinked fire alarm deadline and also provide clarity on the issue as a number of constituents have gotten in touch to register their concerns. Whilst I share the ambition to ensure everyone is equally protected, I am deeply concerned by how this rollout has been handled by the Scottish Government.

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Cole-Hamilton calls for support for the BBC

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has launched a new campaign to declare support for the national broadcaster in the face of the Conservative government’s latest threat to its funding structure.  

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