Notes of Meeting with Daniel Johnson, MSP and South Edinburgh Quakers 19.01.19.
Action points in bold
Present: Daniel Johnson MSP, Deirdre Armitage, Tom Leonard, Sylvia Massey, Eoin Rutter, Esther Shreeve, David Somervell.
The meeting opened with a reading from Quaker Advices and Queries no 33: “Are you alert to practices here and throughout the world which discriminate against people on the basis of who or what they are or because of their beliefs? Bear witness to the humanity of all people, including those who break society’s conventions or its laws. Try to discern new growing points in social and economic life. Seek to understand the causes of injustice, social unrest and fear. Are you working to bring about a just and compassionate society which allows everyone to develop their capacities and fosters the desire to serve?”
Points raised with Daniel:
The ever present issues of health and social care provision. Progress on cross-party work? Integration authorities – can he provide us with an update on how these are progressing? Update on provision with closure of Liberton and Astley Ainslie hospitals.
There have been delays in the redevelopment of the Royal Edinburgh site, where 40 of the Liberton beds are due to go. The scheme is running 5 years behind schedule with expected completion now in 2025.
Daniel is looking to encourage effective community representation in discussions about the future of the Astley Ainslie site.
There are huge problems with regard to the integration of Health and Social Care because of budgetary constraints. Daniel will try to find out if there is a progress report for Lothian NHS. He will ask also about the present structures, looking initially at the Scottish Parliament Information centre.
Esther undertook to send a link about Dorset which is making good progress. Attached here:
Daniel said he would draw the attention of the chair of the joint board to this to check if he is aware and ask for his response.
There is the Bill going through parliament now which will makes physical punishment at home/ within the family illegal. Where does Daniel stand on this? https://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/Bills/104602.aspx
Daniel replied that he is in sympathy with this bill which has cross-party support apart from the Conservatives who appear divided. The draft bill is now at stage 1, to be complete by 31.05.19. S Edinburgh Quakers should watch out for calls for evidence and submissions from the Equality and Human Rights Committee. A group submission could bear more weight than individuals writing.
This led to a brief discussion about the increase in child abuse cases, both historic and current. It appears likely that the perceived increase is largely due to improved reporting, but a report is in preparation and we should await the outcome. All agreed that there is no room for prejudice about possible groups involved, nor for complacency.
Concerns re Mental health issues among young people; the report of the recent task group. https://www.gov.scot/publications/children-young-peoples-mental-health-taskforce-delivery-plan/ How quickly will the improvements in speed of response be implemented for young people with MH needs? Is the money sufficient? Concerns at empty debating chamber in debate in December .
Daniel was clear that the emptiness of the debating chamber is not a measure of how important a topic is judged to be. All are agreed it is of huge and urgent importance, but there are also huge budgetary constraints which means that only the most urgent cases seem to be attended to and chronic illness slips down the list. He undertook to check the progress of Marion Brown’s petition about withdrawal from anti-depressants and also to keep our group informed of developments in this area. He recommended we could watch the ScotGov website for stage 1 of bills. He was reminded of Mairi Campbell-Jack, our Scottish Quakers Parliamentary Engagement Officer. He is open to hearing more from individuals within our group with particular concerns.
Concerns re nuclear safety: would Daniel approach Paul Wheelhouse before he plans to meet with the Office for Nuclear Regulation on Feb 21st? https://theferret.scot/cracks-hunterston-reactors/.
Daniel was happy to write to Paul about this and to ask him to report back after the meeting. Hs is personally openminded on the subject of nuclear power but is clear that any projects must be highly risk averse and shared our concern about the safety threshold being applied.
In conclusion, the group thanked Daniel for giving time for this discussion. He replied that he is always happy to meet with groups and individuals and that the Advices and Queries 33 had resonated with him at the start of the meeting.