SNP Government to fund frontline efforts to help hardcore of street homeless while Ruth Davidson goes from baking show to celebrity list membership games and our media rats sniff the sewer air for SNP-bad aroma

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(c) PA

Once more, the Scottish Government acts to help the most vulnerable in our society in a way utterly alien to the thinking of Tories in England or Scotland. Ruth Davidson’s Boris-like, bullishness may have got her into a list of the supposed influential in British society, but she has no influence on matters of real concern in a modern compassionate society.

Homelessness is falling in Scotland as it rises in England under the malign ‘leadership of Theresa ‘Windrush’ May. See these for more detail:

Homelessness falls in Scotland as it rises in England, mainly driven by heartless Tory welfare reforms

Could Scotland end homelessness?

Having begun to tackle the wider problem of homelessness with the successful Priority Needs Test in 2012/13 and currently piloting the Housing First strategy, the SNP Government has now taken steps to deal with ‘the hard core of street homeless who refuse to engage with services or access any accommodation on offer.’

See this, from the Guardian today, but ignored by the Scottish media:

‘Outreach workers in Scottish cities can make instant pay-outs of up to £200 for anything from haircuts to hotel rooms as part of a radical approach to entrenched rough sleeping. The funding, directly from the Scottish government, is being made available to frontline staff working with the hard core of street homeless who refuse to engage with services or access any accommodation on offer.’

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/apr/22/instant-payouts-offer-lifeline-scotland-rough-sleepers-homelessness

Some say the measure of a society is how it treats its elderly, sick and poor. This seems an even tougher test. This hard core of rough sleepers and, perhaps, daytime beggars, represent a group for whom many in our society have no compassion. I doubt there are many votes to be won from this so the SNP leadership is to be commended for reminding us how different we and they can be from Tory England.

I’m not a believer, but ‘the book’ is full of evidence that our Tory kirk and church-going neighbours might want to recognise the efforts of this government:

Matthew 25:40

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

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Another little difference that tells us something: SNP to improve disability terms for terminally ill.

hands

(c) nen-press

See this, from the Scottish Government, yesterday:

A new amendment has been tabled to the Social Security (Scotland) Bill, which would remove any time qualification for people who are terminally ill. Current UK legislation for disability benefits and Universal Credit specifies that the definition of terminal illness is someone likely to die within 6 months. Social Security Minister Jeane Freeman has put forward an amendment to ensure that it will be entirely down to the clinical judgement of medical professionals to identify when a person is terminally ill, and this will ensure they can be automatically fast-tracked to the highest rate of disability benefits when they are devolved to the Scottish Parliament.’

https://news.gov.scot/news/no-time-limit-for-terminally-ill-people

It been some time since I considered the notion of Scotland, most of its politicians and most of its people being a bit different from the UK, many of its politicians and many of its people. The above, on its own means little but when you combine it with these below, I think it reveals a difference that makes a difference, and which adds to the case for independence:

More evidence of becoming a better nation as SNP ‘future-proof’ social security

NHS Scotland: 27% increase in kidney transplants including 10% increase from living donors as ‘UK’ level falls to eight-year low

Less homicide, less knife crime, less domestic violence, safer cities and now much lower alcohol problems: should Scotland’s old stereotypes be sent south?

Scotland first again, again and again: women on public boards?

8% of the UK population and 28% of living wage employers. More evidence that we are different enough to want to run the whole show?

As England’s prisons sink into crisis, Scotland’s prisons benefit from a ‘consistent government’ with ‘political guts’

Scottish care workers to receive Living Wage for ‘sleepover’ hours while English care workers receive only the National Minimum Wage.

Racial hate crimes increase by 33% in England & Wales while falling by 10% in Scotland: Who says we’re not different?

Scotland takes nearly 26% of Syrian refugees settled in UK with only 8% of the UK population

In a year of terrible events, we can still feel that this wee country is getting better as it drifts away from the callous, post-imperial, values of Tory Britain

Scots more likely to give to charities, to volunteer or to sponsor others

Scottish Government to fight alongside UN to defend disabled against Tory cuts.

Could Scotland end homelessness?

Scotland has lower poverty rates than England: JRF Excerpt 1

Scots the least respectful of the upper classes: More evidence of a difference that makes a difference?

Wha’s like us? Lots of good folk in England, I know, but sadly not enough of them to counter the nasty Tory voters.

Nanny State? Average speed cameras, Jeremy Clarkson and the Scottish Tories

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(c) Edinburgh University, Salisbury Studio Theatre, Daily Telegraph

Back in January 2017, Jeremy Clarkson, raged against the denial of his freedom to speed, after the installation of the average speed camera system, on Scotland’s most dangerous road, the A9. It’s that kind of Toad of Toad Hall, Libertarian / Right-wing thinking Clarkson specialises in. In November that same year, the Scottish Conservative, MSP Liam Kerr, presumably their Boy Racer Spokesman, featured in the Evening Express, questioning their value on the A90, Aberdeen to Dundee:

‘New A90 average speed cameras would not have prevented half of road accidents. New figures left transport chiefs facing fresh questions over their decision to fix the unpopular devices along the A90 Aberdeen to Dundee road. Scottish Conservatives said police data released to the party showed 124 of 272 accidents over the last four years “would not likely have been helped by the money-spinning measure”. North-east MSP Liam Kerr claimed “far more” collisions are happening at junctions, private entrances, and roundabouts than thought, and the vehicles involved were likely to have been “slow-moving and certainly not fast enough to be detected by cameras”.’

https://www.eveningexpress.co.uk/fp/news/local/new-a90-average-speed-cameras-would-not-have-prevented-half-of-road-accidents/

Even if Liam is correct, and leaving aside the dodgy arithmetic, is it possible the cameras will help reduce the 148 or bigger half of the accidents? We’ll have to wait to see if they work on the A90, but they clearly work on the A9. The statistics, from the A9 Safety Group, are pretty convincing:

Compared to 2011-13, since the cameras were introduced, the following pattern has emerged:

Dunblane to Inverness

  • 10 fewer people killed
  • 16 fewer people seriously injured
  • 96 fewer people injured
  • Average number of fatal casualties down by over 40%
  • Average number of ‘fatal and serious’ casualties down by 31%
  • Average number of fatal collisions down by over 23%

Perth to Inverness

  • 9 fewer people killed
  • 14 fewer people seriously injured
  • 81 fewer people injured
  • Average number of fatal casualties down by over 40%
  • Average number of ‘fatal and serious’ casualties down by over 32%

Dunblane to Perth

  •  2 fewer people seriously injured
  • 15 fewer people injured
  • Average number of fatal casualties down by 50%
  • Average number of ‘fatal and serious’ casualties down by over 23%
  • Average number of fatal collisions down by 50%

https://news.gov.scot/news/3year-a9-performance-data-published-1

I’ve been up and down the A9 a few times and it regularly scares me near to death.

Poxy Unionist media unfairly attack NHS in proxy war against SNP

 

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Rennie and Bennie (c) Heathcare Times and Scottish Sun

As Willie Rennie is reported to be joining his own campaign to have the Health Secretary sacked and as the three Unionist party’s reform their unholy trinity with the Tories who have single-handedly reduced NHS England to humanitarian crisis (no speech marks required), BBC Scotland and the ever-loyal Herald have launched another NHS attack using the unverified and partisan impressions of a trades unionist.

Here are the headlines:

‘BBC Scotland: ‘Scottish doctors’ leader warns health service ‘deteriorating (sic)’’

BBC Scotland: ‘Patients suffering’

Herald: Dr Peter Bennie: doctors in Scotland ‘under pressure like never before’

Note the use of speech marks so that they can claim to be not guilty of accusations of propaganda? ‘We never said they were actually deterioriating (bad grammar!). Readers understand speech marks. We’ll some balance in the report…..near the end when, hopefully, readers have stopped reading.’ Here’s a bit of the BBC report:

‘Scotland’s leading doctor has warned patients are “suffering” because of funding cuts and staff shortages. Dr Peter Bennie, chairman of BMA Scotland claimed staff and funding are not keeping up with demand.He said the gap is putting unprecedented strain on doctors and that all parts of the profession are “under pressure like never before”….Doctors struggle with the implications of this on a daily basis, with services deteriorating, patients suffering as a result and more pressure being put on already overworked staff.’

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-43839703

The Herald repeated the anecdotal ‘evidence’ (I can use ‘’ too):

‘Doctors in Scotland are “under pressure like never before” amid shortfalls in funding and rising vacancies, a leading medic has warned. Dr Peter Bennie, chairman of doctors’ trade union BMA Scotland, said services are deteriorating and patients are “suffering” because NHS resources cannot cope with growing demand.’

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/16174511.Dr_Peter_Bennie__doctors_in_Scotland__under_pressure_like_never_before_/

Note the ‘leading doctor’ bit? To be fair, the Herald do mention that he is a trades union leader.

The ‘leading doctor’ and the ‘chairman of BMA Scotland’ bits suggest authority and the need for particular respect. Peter Bennie is chairman, elected union leader, of the British Medical Association’s Scottish branch. I’ve had a wee search, but I can find no sign of him being a leading doctor. There’s no sign of awards for exceptional practice nor research publications presenting cutting-edge findings to move practice on nor is there even sign of him having managed anything much. It looks like he might be a leading trades unionist though, again, he’s no Bob Crowe, late of the RMT and the BMA Scotland is pretty wee. If he’s leading anything it’s in an essentially political role and not medical role so he’s not a ‘leading doctor’ and ‘convener’ would be more accurate than ‘chief’.

I’m not knocking being a trade union leader by any means. I was a lifelong member of the teachers’ EIS union. I remember many of its ‘leaders’ at different levels. Often good trades unionists, I don’t remember any of them have been leading educationists. They were usually people who had become more interested in the political role of the unions and gradually rose within those organisations on the basis of popularity.

So, Doctor Bennie is primarily getting attention in the Scottish mainstream (Unionist) media because he is a trades unionist in a union with posh sounding personal and organisational titles and a very Unionist sounding, name.

Now, what about his claims? Needless to say, he offers no empirical evidence to back them up, not even a badly done survey done by his ‘research’ team. Notably, the BMA nationally and the respected Nuffield Trust researchers don’t seem to share his concerns. Here’s what BMA HQ in London and the Nuffield Trust think:

Scottish Government funds new initiative to reduce planned waiting times in the wake of BMA praise for its new GP contract and illustrating what the Nuffield Trust called ‘a unique system of improving the quality of health care.’

Scottish GP Contract rated ‘far superior’ by BMA, introduced today, to strengthen patient care

As anti-SNP media scrabble desperately for a crisis in NHS Scotland, GP numbers hold constant and access for patients remains far better than in any other part of the UK

Secondly, there is considerable evidence that NHS Scotland is performing pretty well despite the pressures. See these, again:

Despite massive increases in demand, NHS Scotland maintains performance levels extremely close to the most rigorous of targets and patient satisfaction is at an all-time high. Audit Scotland say: ‘There were no significant weaknesses in the overall quality of care being provided.’

NHS Scotland A&E performance is more than 10% better than NHS England though BBC Salford mislead viewers by using wrong figure

NHS Scotland: 27% increase in kidney transplants including 10% increase from living donors as ‘UK’ level falls to eight-year low

Bed-blocking in NHS Scotland falls by nearly 10% in one year as the rate in NHS England surges to nearly 500% higher, per capita, than that in NHS Scotland!

National auditors find two very different NHS systems in the UK. Someone tell Theresa today.

NHS Scotland significantly outperforms NHS England on cancer waiting times despite demand soaring: Herald fails to report properly again

As already better-staffed NHS Scotland’s vacancies run at half the rate in England, ‘The extent of the [UK] Government’s failure to plan the NHS workforce is astonishing.’

‘NHS England cancelling operations at three times the rate in Scotland!’ or ‘With 10% of the population to care for, NHS Scotland cancels only 3.3% of NHS England operations cancelled in January’

NHS England ‘haemorrhaging’ nurses as 33 000 leave each year. NHS Scotland Nurse staffing increases.

‘NHS Compensation Claims in England four times higher than in Scotland!’ or Scotsman journalist fails professional test for lumping statistics and lack of context in report on NHS Scotland compensation

Putting the A&E figures in perspective: NHS England patients were more than twice as likely to wait over four hours throughout 2017.

NHS Scotland has massively increased staffing of consultants and acute medicine specialists under SNP administration. Try telling the Daily Excess.

You’d think the BMA in Scotland would be listening to the horror stories from their English colleagues, recognising the demonstrable superiority of the NHS Scotland, blessing their good luck to be here and not there, and maybe even seeing the sense in independence?

Pressure on Herald editor to resign over misrepresentation of NHS successes as Health Secretary is nominated for award as most successful in UK

Shona Robison - SNP - Dundee City East

Today, the Herald headlined with

‘Pressure on Shona Robison to resign over NHS ‘failures’’

As far as I can see the only ‘failure’ by the Health Secretary, Shona Robison, relates to ‘failures’ at NHS Tayside. As for the pressure, it seems to be only coming from one or two ‘opposition’ MSPs. I see no sign of a petition by thousands of angry patients and relatives. I see no sign of protest outside her office nor of widespread protests outside the other health boards. Could it be that there isn’t really any pressure on the Health Secretary at all? Indeed, could it be, amazingly, that there would be more pressure for Robison to be awarded the new ‘Best Health Secretary/Minister in the UK’ prize?

I’ve nominated her based on the portfolio of some of the NHS Scotland success stories listed below:

Despite massive increases in demand, NHS Scotland maintains performance levels extremely close to the most rigorous of targets and patient satisfaction is at an all-time high. Audit Scotland say: ‘There were no significant weaknesses in the overall quality of care being provided.’

NHS Scotland A&E performance is more than 10% better than NHS England though BBC Salford mislead viewers by using wrong figure

NHS Scotland: 27% increase in kidney transplants including 10% increase from living donors as ‘UK’ level falls to eight-year low

Bed-blocking in NHS Scotland falls by nearly 10% in one year as the rate in NHS England surges to nearly 500% higher, per capita, than that in NHS Scotland!

National auditors find two very different NHS systems in the UK. Someone tell Theresa today.

NHS Scotland significantly outperforms NHS England on cancer waiting times despite demand soaring: Herald fails to report properly again

As already better-staffed NHS Scotland’s vacancies run at half the rate in England, ‘The extent of the [UK] Government’s failure to plan the NHS workforce is astonishing.’

‘NHS England cancelling operations at three times the rate in Scotland!’ or ‘With 10% of the population to care for, NHS Scotland cancels only 3.3% of NHS England operations cancelled in January’

NHS England ‘haemorrhaging’ nurses as 33 000 leave each year. NHS Scotland Nurse staffing increases.

‘NHS Compensation Claims in England four times higher than in Scotland!’ or Scotsman journalist fails professional test for lumping statistics and lack of context in report on NHS Scotland compensation

Putting the A&E figures in perspective: NHS England patients were more than twice as likely to wait over four hours throughout 2017.

NHS Scotland has massively increased staffing of consultants and acute medicine specialists under SNP administration. Try telling the Daily Excess.

New Scottish GP contract rated far superior, by BMA, to English equivalent as Scottish GP numbers hold steady and NHS England loses 1 000 in one year!

There was a word-limit, so I couldn’t list all the successes, during Shona Robison’s period in charge!

I gather Tory, Labour and DUP-led NHS systems in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have decided not to nominate so it looks like a walk-over.

‘Beast from the East’ fails to slow pace of construction in Scotland but causes havoc across UK?

SNOW-BS-ARTICLE-780x439

‘Snow causing havoc for construction sites across UK’

(Building Specifier, March 2nd 2018)

From ‘Insider’ today:

Construction workloads remained resilient despite bad weather in the first quarter of this year, according to a survey published today. The results of the RICS Construction and Infrastructure Market Survey for Scotland found that in the first three months of 2018, 11 per cent more chartered surveyors reported that workloads had risen, not fallen. While 67 per cent of respondents across the UK noted bad weather conditions as a limiting factor, the “Beast from the East” was not enough to slow the pace of growth. RICS said its quarterly series suggests the construction sector has largely enjoyed a period of steady growth since the early part of 2018 as the industry has geared up to meet the demands of a stronger economy.’

https://www.insider.co.uk/news/construction-sector-rics-market-survey-12389211

Note the last sentence? I’m not the only one who knows we have a stronger economy despite the contrary reporting from our mainstream media.

I sometimes imagine readers having debates with a Unionist and wishing they could remember something from this blog, to win the argument with, so I commonly list related earlier posts. So, on the economy, the above report can be reinforced by:

Hard evidence of a robust economy further undermines media doubts based on unreliable and meaningless GDP statistics

Scottish economy is thriving on innovation as patent filing runs at 4 times the UK rate

And more evidence of a strong economy: starting salaries in Scotland increase at quickest rate for more than 3 years

17% increase in number of Scots planning to start a new business as Scottish economy strengthens

Scotland’s economy continues to show signs of good health and growth

Reports of a strong Scottish economy just keep coming. Now debt decrees down 93% in the last three months

More evidence Scottish economy is strong: Demand for office space in Glasgow highest for ten years

Clear signs of a robust economy? 15% increase in Edinburgh office take-up in 2017 and Glasgow set for a ‘stellar 12 months.’

Scottish businesses continue to show signs of health with insolvencies down 23% as the Scottish economy holds strong

The Auditor General strongly, with no qualifications, commends the Scottish Government on its ‘sound’ management of the economy. The lowest under-spend since devolution.

With only 8% of the population, Scotland’s maritime sector accounts for 25% of the UK maritime sector’s (GVA) contribution to the economy and is 17.5% more productive than the UK marine oil and gas sector. Once more, too wee, too poor?

12% increase in the formation of social enterprises in Scotland over only 2 years leads to a £2 billion economic contribution to Scottish economy.

England runs massive trade deficit. Only Scotland has a viable sustainable economy, exporting more than she imports thus requiring no national debt

As for GDP, see:

When will Scotland’s economics correspondents catch up with current thinking on GDP? When they can find something else to attack the SNP with.

Apologies to those not requiring this list.

Footnote: Scottish builders are more used to snow? Are tougher?

Investment rises as Scottish firms report confidence in growth for 2018

index

Based on a survey by the Scottish Chambers of Commerce and the Fraser of Allander ‘Institute’, reported in Insider today, it seems companies are reporting increasing levels of investment in both training and capital projects.

Even, Professor Graeme Roy director of the Fraser of Allander Institute, seems unable to do a convincing ‘ah but’ and can only remind us that things were less good in the past:

‘Whilst weak business investment has been a feature of Scotland’s economy in recent times, the survey suggests that levels of investment have increased significantly over the last year.’

https://www.insider.co.uk/news/scottish-chambers-fraser-of-allander-12385706

You can see the grudging look on his face.

It will be interesting to see just how negatively BBC Scotland can spin this. Judging by their recent attempt, quite a bit, I’d say. See this for a reminder of their ability to spot clouds on a sunny day:

BBC Scotland talks-down the Scottish economy: Bias by omission, language choices and a Rev IM Jolly delivery