Rhoda Grant: Concerns that Caithness could be left behind in bid to tackle women's health issues
Easier access to your trusted, local news. Have a look at our brand new digital subscription packages!
Holyrood Notebook by Rhoda Grant
The last month has been a busy one and it has been a great mix of both constituency and parliamentary work. Caithness has been a high focus of mine this month and I had the opportunity to bring women’s health concerns to FMQs.
My question surrounded endometriosis diagnosis – currently, average diagnosis time sits at over eight years. The Scottish Government are planning to tackle this in this parliamentary term and the first step was publishing the Women’s Health Plan.
This was done in early summer and it outlines several goals and aims to tackle women’s health problems including menopause, abortion and endometriosis. All these goals and aims are welcome but, sadly, I’m concerned that rural areas such as Caithness will be left behind as the plan made no mention of the unique challenges women face when they live far away from services and how that can impact overall health.
I asked the First Minister to listen to campaigners who are calling for a review of Caithness health services so that the government know the challenges they will face in the upcoming years to reach these goals. I will continue to pressure for this as I fear it may become a postcode lottery.
I also had the opportunity to lead a members' debate in the parliament on “Green Lairds” – corporations or private individuals that buy up estates in Scotland in the hope of capitalising on the chance of off-setting carbon emissions elsewhere.
These wealthy individuals buy these estates and then claim taxpayers' money to carry out their carbon sequestration. This is money that could be put to better use by communities if they were given ownership of this land.
Often they have no regard to the needs of the communities that surround them, focused only on their own needs and wishes. We know that this pattern of land ownership led to the decimation of communities in the past and we must stop this new breed causing further damage. The government’s response was reasonably positive but I will continue to push them on this.
On Tuesday, my Right to Food Bill goes to committee to ask for permission to proceed without a further consultation. This bill will enshrine the human right to food into Scottish law and will also charge an independent organisation to ensure that it is implemented.
We saw on the national news the desperately sad case of a pensioner who died of starvation. I am infuriated that in a rich country such as ours people go without food, either because they cannot afford it or because they cannot access it. If my bill becomes law I hope that we can work together to end the need for food banks and ensure that everyone has the food they need for a healthy life.
I will end this column with a bit of good news. I am expanding my team and I have a temporary full-time position for a parliamentary and research assistant. You can find more information on this on my website or on my social media pages.
- Rhoda Grant is a Labour MSP for the Highlands and Islands.