Health & Education

  • Lying scum! July 7, 2017 It has become a genre in its own right. Doubtless its practitioners regard it as an art and take immense pride in their work. It may well be that, in the realm of the mainstream media, a CV is greatly enhanced by the boast of being an accomplished dissembler, deceiver and liar. Familiarity with the output of the British media in Scotland makes it easy to believe that there might be considerable demand for individuals able and willing to dispense unabashed dishonesty for a small fee. A talent for taking any story about Scotland, however upbeat or positive, and turning into a dire and depressing tale of soul-sucking woe is certainly valued by the British political elite to which The Herald ... Read More
  • A Letter To My Younger Self July 6, 2017 A letter to my 14 year old self. Your biggest worry right now is that you’ll never grow boobs, i’m happy to say that you do, but unfortunately it won’t be for a lot longer than you hoped! I need to prepare you, things are going to start getting tougher for you Sassy. Your sight is going to start deteriorating, and it’s going to be a source of vexation and stress for you and the entire family, don’t worry, it doesn’t go all at once, but the decline starts at the end of year 10. I feel like I need to prepare you, you are defiant, stubborn, short tempered and irrational exclaiming such things like you’ll take your own life if it ... Read More
  • Though we already have the highest rate of donors in the UK, Scottish government to introduce soft opt-out system for organ donation. Does this tell us something more? July 6, 2017 A ‘soft opt-out scheme’ would mean that consent for organ donation was presumed. This would lead to an increase in life-saving organ transplants reducing the waiting lists. It’s expected that this might increase pressure on London and Northern Ireland to follow suit. It’s thought there is widespread support with a BMA survey showing 65% support though only 39% had got round to signing-up to the register. That we already have the highest voluntary donor rate made me think. Our media and political elites are always keen to tell us we’re not so different from our neighbours in England and I do recognise we’re not radically different in that there are selfish individualists here and caring communitarians there but that doesn’t mean ... Read More
  • PIP assessments are dehumanising, degrading, very distressing and potentially harmful July 2, 2017 I co-run a support group for people going through Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Personal Independent Payment assessments and appeals. I have heard many people’s harrowing experiences of these assessments, I have written about them, and I’ve written critically about the assessment process itself. However, it isn’t until you experience one of these assessments for yourself that you may fully appreciate just how utterly distressing, surreal, degrading and dehumanising the process actually is. Or how potentially harmful. I had my first ever Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessment today. I have systemic lupus and pulmonary fibrosis, among other problems, all of which affect my mobility and capacity to live independently, day-to-day. My consultant is a rheumatologist and more recently, I have ... Read More
  • Hundreds of English mental health patients forced to travel hundreds of miles to Scotland for treatment, due to bed shortages July 1, 2017 In only one English county, Oxfordshire, nearly 500 patients have had to travel to Scotland for treatment over the last three years. Some have had to make the 532 miles journey to Inverness! I’ve already contrasted the humanitarian disaster afflicting parts of NHS England with the relatively well-managed NHS Scotland. You can search my site for ‘NHS’ to find all 20 or 30 articles or probably just look at this admittedly slightly dated list I made last October: Scotland has the best and still improving A&E performance in the World. (Royal College of Emergency Medicine and Holyrood.com 1, 2) Scotland has the most GPs per head of population in the UK and has had so every year since at least 2004. (Nuffield Trust ... Read More
  • Semantics of The Word Disabled July 1, 2017 Today I was tagged on Twitter by Someone’s Mum to share my thoughts on her recent post. I was responding via Twitter and then realise I didn’t just have a little something to say on the matter, but something much bigger. And this is where my post began. Firstly I’d like to say that this is a beautifully written piece, and 100% spot on. The language of words is utterly powerful, but peoples connotations of said words is part of the problem. I am disabled, but that is not all of who I am it’s a part of me just as my size is. I use the adjective freely, because that is what it is; describing a part of me. People get ... Read More
  • Helping disabled Scots now – some practical proposals for the Scottish Government June 24, 2017 This week saw the publication of the Social Security (Scotland) Bill, but it will be 3 to 4 years until Scottish disability benefits begin to replace the deeply problematic Personal Independence Payment (PIP), and activists want to know what help disabled Scots will be given in the meantime. Scottish activists in Action Against Austerity have declared a week of action on PIP, and in support of this the SUWN has written to MSPs. We asked what they will be doing to ensure that the Scottish Parliament does all it can to look after Scotland’s most vulnerable citizens, and to prevent some of the worst travesties resulting from the current transfer from DLA to PIP. In the most blatant change, PIP ... Read More
  • Scottish stillbirth and early infant death rates lowest in the UK and approaching lowest in the world June 23, 2017 In the Nordic countries – Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Iceland – the rate of stillbirths and deaths of babies within 28 days is 4.3 per 1 000 live births. This is the lowest in the world. In the USA, it’s about 10. The Scottish figure has now fallen to just 4.72 with the rate for the UK at 5.61. This good news is from the BBC website! If you can bear to watch Reporting Scotland or listen to Good Morning Scotland and they mention it or don’t, let me know. However, there’s something a bit contradictory here isn’t there. Aren’t we the sick man of Europe with shorter life expectancies due to smoking and poor diets? Shouldn’t our childbirth figures be ... Read More
  • Interesting news for the DUP/Tory alliance: Women from Northern Ireland could get free abortions in Scotland June 19, 2017 The English Supreme Court has already ruled against women from Northern Ireland getting free abortions in England. That’s one barrier to a DUP/Tory alliance removed. However, what if they can just make the shorter trip to Scotland for the treatment? Backed by Amnesty International, the Scottish government is exploring the possibility of making the procedure free on the devolved NHS in Scotland. Currently, hundreds travel every year to private clinics in the UK and pay thousands for the treatment. A recent survey revealed 78% of Norther Irish people support reforms: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/northern-ireland-supports-abortion-law-reform-dup-nhs-national-survey-ban-illegal-a7795151.html If successful this would be just another example of Scotland becoming the kind of tolerant country most of us want it to be. See for example: Only Independence and the SNP’s compassionate policies can ... Read More
  • What exactly is the jobcentre for? June 14, 2017 It’s been a long time since jobs were advertised in jobcentres and you went there to look for work, but a jobcentre actively intervening to stop people’s own efforts to find a job places it firmly in the category of worse than useless. It’s not just that they’re making people waste time with pointless exercises. People are telling us about ‘work coaches’ making them stop doing things that would be genuinely helpful. Frank has been trying to find bits of work through advertising his services locally – and was amazed as well as angry to be told to stop. Susan has recently completed a science degree as a mature student. We know that after three months on unemployment benefit you can ... Read More