Sunday, 23 February 2014

Saving Hearts

On Thursday I took part in a Scottish Patient Safety Programme (SPSP) ward walkround at the Royal Infirmary. There's a planned schedule of visits each month and non Exec NHS Board members are expected to participate as often as possible. It's designed to allow staff and patients to provide feedback on patient safety matters or any other issues. It's also invaluable to me as it provides a fantastic insight into the daily lives of health workers at the front line delivering a vital service. There's also a wide range of services and facilities that are visited and this time it was the Cardiology unit at the Royal (wards 103 and 114, I think). Unfortunately, my other two colleagues had to cancel at short notice which left me as the sole Board representative, however that meant I had some quality time with several members of the staff team and we had a really good chat about numerous issues and the challenges that they face. I was then given a tour of the unit, extremely impressive, professional and bristling with all types of technology that are used to support people who have suffered heart attacks and other cardiac conditions. They are world leaders at early diagnosis and medical interventions (they have a 90 minute target time from the first call from the ambulance) and bags of experience in dealing with high numbers of patients and a steady turnover of admissions and discharges. My thanks to Ann, Pat, Simon and their teams for being so helpful. We often see negative headlines in the media in relation to health care so it was great to see such an important unit providing excellent service with dedicated staff, operating at optimum level.

Yesterday I was at the Edinburgh Labour conference on Local Government Finance. More interesting than you might think... Then off to catch the second half at Tynecastle and while we slumped to another disappointing defeat, this week did at least see the emergence of Ann Budge as the potential saviour of Hearts, until a fans buyout can be delivered. There is light at the end of the tunnel, although to be honest, it's a very long tunnel !

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Pure Poetry, by the way

One of the book sculptures
Another busy week, culminated in us setting the Council budget 2014/15. The usual set piece political blows were duly exchanged in the Chamber before the Capital Coalition proposals were approved. The full papers and all the political motions are available on this link.

Yesterday, saw the latest meeting of our shadow Health and Social Care Partnership and we had a good session discussing a variety of issues from ICT improvements to Unscheduled Care, the NHS Lothian Strategic Plan and the progress of the integration bill through the Scottish Parliament.

I then had a meeting with the good folk at the Scottish Poetry Library in Crichton's Close. They have a number of projects running across Scotland where artists / story tellers / poets do regular sessions in care homes. By engaging with the residents it helps to break down isolation and improves mood and confidence. We don't currently have a relationship with them in Edinburgh but I'm keen to see that change. We also had a look at some of the Edinburgh Book Sculptures, donated by a mystery benefactor, and they are absolutely beautiful. 

I Heart Scotland
I also managed to attend the launch of the latest Travelling Gallery exhibition last night, I Heart Scotland by Rachel Maclean which is "exploring Scottish national identity and its founding mythologies. Presenting a body of film and print work Rachel examines the nation's romantic histories through the lens of contemporary political debate, creating a complex and surreal vision of modern Scotland." Its quite bold and I liked it but I expect it may divide opinion. 

Tonight we're off to the Counting House to see Panic Attack, The Snipes, Big Fat Panda and Root System, who are launching their new CD. Could be messy....

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Great Chieftan o' the Puddin' Race

The Central / Pentlands Burns Supper was excellent. Main speakers Caroline Flint MP (Immortal Memory), Anas Sarwar MP (Toast to the Lassies) and Jenny Marra MSP (reply from the Lassies) were all superb and ably supported by Tim Pogson and Alistair Darling. My flawless Selkirk Grace (only 4 lines of course !) was delivered with a sigh of relief and the knowledge that I could relax and enjoy the rest of the evening. A good night was had by all and we raised a few quid for both CLPs.

Sunday didn't exactly go according to plan. I've seen Hearts get beat under some unusual circumstances over years but I haven't witnessed that before ! At least there was more promising news yesterday about the long process towards taking the club out of Administration and into the ownership of the fans.

Busy start to the week again with the usual array of Monday morning meetings followed by a trip to Heriot Watt Uni for a meeting of the South West Community Sports Hub. Lot of good work being carried out and some momentum now building. Surgeries at Clovie and Currie not too busy.

Labour Group meeting last night, and we're getting very close to putting the finishing touches to the budget and our draft Coalition motion. More info will be released publicly later this week.

This morning saw a very busy NHS Lothian Board meeting with a particularly heavy agenda, but we got through it, eventually.

Full Council tomorrow, all the reports are on this link.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Hello 2014

A belated Happy New Year. As expected, after the Christmas and New Year break it's been really busy. At least that's my excuse for neglecting my blog duties. So today's post is more of a summary of some activities and events throughout January.

It began badly with a derby defeat at Easter Road, but a couple of wins on the bounce and we can at least look forward to tomorrow's League Cup semi final with a modicum of optimism.

Council business has been dominated by preparations for the 2014/15 budget which will be set on 13th February and numerous workstreams on the Health, Social Care and Housing front, including the Committee meeting last Tuesday (28th). You can access all the reports on this link.

Locally, the normal routine of surgeries and community meetings has resumed with much focus on the numerous planning applications that have been submitted in all corners of the ward.

In addition, at Wester Hailes CC on 8th January I learned that a Food Bank is to be established within the shopping centre at Westside Plaza, with support from the CC, a local church and the centre managers. A sad sign of the times.

A couple of events with a positive feel are worth a mention from the last week. The Canny wi' Cash project , run by EVOC, provided small grants to local groups working with older people and the successful application were subject to a democratic vote by older people around the city. We hosted a wee reception for them and it was good to chat about the various brilliant activities being delivered. Click on EVOC's Canny wi' Cash page for more details.

Also attended the launch of the Dementia Awareness Campaign at Drumbrae Library and although this is a serious and growing problem, the event itself was upbeat and positive. Working with Alzheimer Scotland, the NHS and the voluntary sector we are hoping to raise awareness of dementia and encourage people to seek help if they think they may have symptoms. Early diagnosis and support can make a big difference to sufferers and their families.

Tonight is the annual Edinburgh Central and Pentlands Labour Burns night. Should be fun.