David nominates John Macleod for the new £50 note

Highlands & Islands Regional MSP and Parliamentary Diabetes Champion, David Stewart, is to nominate forgotten Scottish hero as the scientist who should feature on the new Bank of England £50 note after The Bank of England announced that the new £50 note will feature a prominent British scientist, with the public being asked for nominations.

In addition to the Queen, the note will include the portrait of an eminent late scientist from fields such as biology, astronomy and medical research.

David said ” I would like to nominate the late scientist John Macleod, an Aberdonian, who shared the 1923 Nobel Prize with Frederick Banting, a young Canadian physician, for their discovery of insulin at the University of Toronto in 1921–1922

“On 8 November 1920, John, the educated Professor of Physiology at the University of Toronto, met for the first time a young Canadian physician, Frederick Banting. Banting hoped Macleod would help him try out a research idea aimed at isolating the internal secretion of the pancreas. Macleod agreed to take Banting into his department and together they worked on a research plan along with their Assistants. On 3 May 1922, John Macleod read a paper to the American Association of Physicians, co-authored by Banting and called ‘The Effect Produced on Diabetes by Extracts of Pancreas’. The audience, which included America’s leading diabetologists, gave him a standing ovation for the work they had done in isolating the pancreatic hormone that controlled metabolism, which they named ‘insulin’.

“In October 1923 it was announced in Stockholm that Frederick Banting and John Macleod would share the 1923 Nobel Prize for their discovery.

David continued “As some will be aware Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that allows your body to use sugar (glucose) from carbohydrates in the food that you eat for energy or to store glucose for future use. The cells in your body need sugar for energy.

“Before the discovery of insulin in 1922, diabetes was often a fatal disease.

“Alarmingly one in 20 people in Scotland have diabetes which is now effectively treated by Insulin.

David concluded “As Parliamentary Diabetes Champion this is an issue close to my heart and I think the late John MacLeod, a forgotten medical hero is the perfect nominee to appear on the front of the new £50

MSP stands up for the Highlands and Islands over exemption from Air Departure Tax

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP David Stewart took the fight to continue the Highlands and Islands exemption to Air Departure Tax to Nicola Sturgeon today.

In Holyrood, he raised the issue at First Minister’s Questions, asking what recent discussions had the Scottish Government had with the European Commission on the tax.

Mr Stewart went on: “The First Minister will be well aware of the calls from some quarters of the aviation industry south of the Highland line to kill off the Highlands & Islands exemption, with potentially damaging consequences for businesses and communities across the region.

“Can the First Minister give Parliament an absolute assurance today that she will resist these misguided demands, and protect the interests of the Highlands and Islands by preserving this vitally important exemption.”

Ms Sturgeon replied that the Government wanted to protect the existing exemption from the tax and had written to the UK Government asking them to notify the exemption for approval to the European Commission, had on-going discussions on the issue, as well as looking at a range of different options to try to solve the problem.

She said actions to date demonstrated that the Scottish Government was absolutely determined to protect the Highlands and Islands exemption.

“I certainly would not support anybody who wanted to kill off that exemption,” she added.

Afterwards, Mr Stewart welcomed the First Minister’s positive reply and stressed that the current exemption for passengers flying from Highlands and Islands airports, meant up to a 16% reduction on some flights to the UK, Europe and beyond.

“This is an extremely important exemption for the region, also making regional routes more viable and sustainable.

“To progress this the Scottish Government needs to have further talks with the UK Government and with the European Commission as a matter of urgency.

“I will continue to stand up for the Highlands and Islands on this one.”

David Stewart, tabled a motion in the Scottish Parliament today (31/10/18) acknowledging and commending Gordon and Sandra McKandie for their drive

Highlands & Islands Regional MSP and long-time road safety campaigner, David Stewart, tabled a motion in the Scottish Parliament today (31/10/18) acknowledging and commending Gordon and Sandra McKandie for their drive, determination motivation and strength in raising funds to purchase defibrillators which have been issued to Police Scotland Roads Policing Units in the North East Division where the medical equipment has already been used 39 times resulting in the saving of a 52 year old man’s life. The family has now raised funds to provide the Highlands and Islands Division with the same equipment. The fundraising is part of the charity they set up called ‘Kierans Legacy’ which is in memory of their 16 year old son who was killed in a road collision back in 2016 near his home in Moray.

 David Stewart said “ I am humbled and at the same time proud to have the opportunity to table a motion in the Scottish Parliament which recognises the charitable work of these two loving parents who have done so much to help save others by purchasing and donating defibrillators to Police Scotland Roads Policing Units. I have been fully aware of this tragic case through my own and my team’s work within the North Of Scotland Driver Awareness Team (NOSDAT). Despite having to grieve for the loss of their son, Gordon and Sandra have found the strength and will to set up this tremendous legacy to their son. It is a truism that is not depleted by repetition that there is no greater tragedy, no greater sorrow and no greater loss than for a parent to lose a child.


Remembrance Day

Highlands & Islands Regional MSP, David Stewart, earlier this year lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament, recognising the dedication and commitment of the team at the Black Isle Bronze Foundry, Nairn, on completion of their crafting of the bronze horse ‘Poppy’ which is now a memorial to all the horses, mules and donkeys killed in WW1.

At that time David said, “This horse is the first national memorial to the millions of horses, mules and donkeys from across the Commonwealth killed in WW1. It is testament to the endeavour and work of those involved at the Black Isle Foundry in Nairn, that the construction and sculpting of this life sized model was awarded to them by the War Horse Memorial organisation.

“The finished sculpture is situated in Berkshire, at Royal Ascot.

David concluded “ This year as we approach Remembrance Day and as a link to the crafting of the bronze war horse ‘Poppy’ by the team at the Black Isle Foundry, Nairn, I would just like to remind people that purple poppies can be worn to remember all the animals also killed as a result of conflict particularly in WW1. Not a lot of people will be aware that almost 8 million horses, donkey’s and mules were killed in action during this war and 750,000 dogs were killed in one week in the UK alone during WW2 as the Government decreed that there was not enough food with rationing to be able to feed them.

“ We are approaching the time of year when we all reflect and remember the sacrifices of so many during conflict by wearing red poppies. Purple poppies can legitimately be worn alongside red poppies if people so wish, to also remember the animals lost during these conflicts, a point I just highlight linking in to the work of the Black Isle Foundry in Nairn in their sculpting on ‘Poppy’ the war horse.

David Stewart has welcomed the Heath Secretary’s announcement this afternoon scrapping NHS Highland’s outstanding brokerage deal

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP and Labour’s Shadow Health Minister David Stewart has welcomed the Heath Secretary’s announcement this afternoon scrapping NHS Highland’s outstanding brokerage deal – previous Scottish Government loans which the health authority received to try to balance its budget.

“It is clear that there were underlying trends which caused budget problems for the health authority such as costs on adult social care, an overspend on drugs and the requirement to employ locums,” explained Mr Stewart.

“I also support the plans to allow NHS Highland to break even over a three-year period, instead of one.

“This is better news for the health service which is really struggling to balance the books and may give a bit of respite to hard pressed front-line staff and help patient services.”

ARE U READY campaign

Highlands & Islands Regional MSP and Road Safety Campaigner, David Stewart, who set up the road safety group NOSDAT (North Of Scotland Driver Awareness Team) has teamed up with local car dealer, Parks of Hamilton to launch their autumn/winter road safety campaign.

ARE U READY is an educational social media, radio and leaflet campaign advising drivers to be ready for autumn/winter driving.

David Stewart said “ On behalf of NOSDAT, I am delighted to work in partnership with Parks of Hamilton on this initiative. Through this educational campaign, which can be heard on MFR, viewed on my face book page and detailed in a leaflet, which will be circulated at North based Parks of Hamilton dealerships and Halfords Inverness, we hope to further improve the safety for all users on our roads. This campaign lists nine handy hints for driving in the autumn and winter and if nothing else, should jog the memories of those who maybe have forgotten some of the do’s and don’ts of driving on our roads during the different seasons. Support from a major car dealer like Parks of Hamilton make our work possible and I am indebted to them for this assistance. The advert will be aired on MFR between 8 and 12 October 2018.

“Changing seasons bring changing hazards whilst driving on our roads, surfaces are affected by wet and slippery conditions, low sun causes sun glare, poor light conditions can affect the area of visibility in front of us, so all drivers need to watch their speed, slow down in residential areas, or near schools and make sure their vehicles are ready for the autumn/winter.

A spokesperson for Parks of Hamilton said “We are delighted to work in cooperation with NOSDAT to highlight the importance of road safety. Road safety is key to ensuring that drivers slow down and drive to the prevailing conditions, especially throughout the Autumn and Winter months when there is perhaps poorer visibility. As a leading vehicle dealer in the North and across Scotland, Park’s Motor Group have been and continue to be, at the forefront of road safety.”

Photo by: Tatiana

Finance Secretary accused of ‘weasel words’ by MSP

Finance Secretary, Derek Mackay, has been accused of using ‘weasel words’ in a reply about how many jobs would come to the Highlands and Islands as a result of the new Scottish social security agency.
In a reply to Labour MSP, David Stewart, he said that “400 locally based jobs” would be the first stage of recruitment for the new Social Security Scotland agency.
However, when Mr Stewart then lodged a Parliamentary Question about how many “locally based jobs” would come to each local authority area in the Highlands and Islands, Shirley-Anne Somerville, the Social Security Secretary, admitted there were just two.
Ms Somerville told the Highlands and Islands MSP: “Nineteen Local Delivery Relationship Leads have been recruited to date, with two of these people to be based in the Highlands and Islands.

“One will be located in the Highlands and one in Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. While some Local Authorities, including Orkney and Shetland, will not have a Local Delivery Relationship Lead based in their area they will have a designated Lead. The Leads will meet regularly and work closely with Local Authorities and other public and third sector organisations to develop a service that is appropriate to the needs of the community.”

Mr Stewart said: “I feel Mr Mackay was indeed using weasel words in his original letter as it wasn’t clear where the jobs would be and how local they would be and now he has been caught out.

“More jobs should be dispersed across the Highlands and Islands but despite the Scottish Government’s smoke and mirrors replies, it is clear it only want jobs in the Central Belt.

“It’s no wonder people in more remote and rural areas feel they are being short-changed by the Government who talk a good talk but fail to deliver.”

Mr Stewart first wrote to the Finance Secretary after a Caithness constituent raised the question of how few jobs were being dispersed to the area from the Central Belt and the loss of skilled workers to the community.
The woman particularly queried how many would come to Caithness and Sutherland with the creation of the new Social Security Scotland agency which is based in Dundee and Glasgow. The Scottish Government agency is to deal with devolved benefits.
In his reply Mr Mackay said: “In April the first stage of recruitment for at least 400 locally based jobs with Social Security Scotland was launched.
“These jobs will be located across Scotland and generate employment opportunities which will reach into all parts of the country including the Caithness and Sutherland area.”

How Brexit could effect future treatment of cancer patients and supply of radioisotopes

Brexit could result in a “traumatic failure” to deliver medical isotopes on time to cancer patients, MSPs heard today.

 Highlands and Islands MSP David Stewart, who is also Scottish labour’s shadow health minister, explained how the UK leaving the European Atomic Energy Community – known as Euratom – as part of Brexit’s Article 50 process could affect patients under-going treatment.

 He was speaking at his Members’ Debate in Scottish Parliament.

 Medical radioistopes are used in radiotherapy for treatment of cancer and in nuclear medicine for both diagnostic work and therapy.

 The principal radioisotope used worldwide is Technetium, derived from a parent element that has a half-life of 66 hours.  This element is obtained from a small number of research nuclear reactors – none of which are located in the UK.  The Hinkley Point nuclear research facility, planned for 2027, could produce medical isotopes but not until it is ready. 

 The bulk of the UK’s supply is from the EU, facilitated by Euratom Supply Operation.

 “We already have a world shortage of medical isotopes,” said Mr Stewart.

 “A key provider, Canada, has just ceased production. The EU is home to four of the top six producers. The distance to Australia and South Africa means they are problematic providers – supply would be limited by the decay of medical isotopes which would occur during transportation.”

 Mr Stewart said the key issue was that isotopes have short half-lives. That means they decay rapidly and cannot be stored.  This creates an urgent need for constant, reliable and predictable supply.  But this has failed in the past and created global shortages.  Euratom has a central and crucial leadership role –it supervises the supply chains.

“There was a crisis in 2008 with the closure of the Channel Tunnel.  Then again in 2015, industrial action in Calais caused chaos in the transportation of isotopes and therefore the cancellation of treatment in the UK,” he said.

“A clear and present danger to the NHS in Scotland and beyond is the loss of frictionless borders post-Brexit.  This could result in a traumatic failure to deliver medical isotopes on time to cancer patients.”

Mr Stewart said that the scale of use is immense and invaluable.  In the UK, around 700,000 nuclear medicine procedures are carried out each year, with around 70,000 of those in Scotland.  It is essential in diagnosing coronary disease, detecting the spread of cancer to the bones, and biomedical research.

The MSP called for the UK Government to come to an agreement that allows the country to remain a part of Euratom.

He also said that there could be a move to create more cyclotrons in Scotland – this facility (a linear accelerator) produces radioisotopes for PET and CT Scanners. 

“There are three in Scotland – Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen but no spare capacity to other PET Centres such as Dundee,” said Mr Stewart.

“There is a case for a PET Scanner in Inverness, with Highland spending £300K on scans alone. However, a large scale switch is expensive.”

Highlands & Islands Regional MSP, David Stewart backs betting shop campaign to tackle killer disease

David is backing a campaign in betting shops to raise awareness about a disease which kills almost 1000 men a year in Scotland.

William Hill, one of the largest retail bookmakers in Scotland, has partnered with Prostate Cancer UK and industry trade association ABB Scotland in a bid to provide potentially life saving information and support to men at risk of developing the disease.

Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer among men, with one in eight men likely to get the disease at some point in their lives. However, it can often be successfully treated if caught early enough. Awareness of risk is a man’s chief defence against the disease. Men over 50, men with a family history of the disease and black men are more at risk and should speak to their doctor if they have concerns.

Throughout the campaign, which runs until the end of September, prostate cancer information and leaflets will be available within all 310 William Hill shops in Scotland, awareness posters will be displayed on washroom doors, and all staff will receive training on key prostate cancer messages to bring up in conversation with customers. Volunteers from Prostate Cancer UK, who have lived or are currently living with the disease, will also visit shops and talk to staff and customers about their own experiences.

Fundraising is also be a key component of the partnership. Customers will have the opportunity to buy one of the charity’s ‘Man of Men’ pin badges in store or simply donate via collection tins which will be in each store. The campaign hopes to raise £20,000 in support of the charity and is well on its way to achieving its target.

David Stewart said “I am more than happy as Shadow Health Minister to back this campaign. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men and the disease kills one man every 45 minutes in the UK. This is why it is important to target men and I am delighted that William Hill have partnered up with Prostrate Cancer UK to do just that through their network of shops.

Kathleen Feeney, Team Leader – Volunteer Engagement for Prostate Cancer UK, said: “Prostate Cancer UK’s ambition is to stop men dying from prostate cancer and to achieve this it is crucial to reach as many men as possible to help raise awareness of their risk. Partnering with William Hill provides an opportunity to get these important health messages out to a large number of men in Scotland whilst raising funds.”

Garry Fenton, William Hill Regional Manager, said: “It is a privilege for William Hill to be partnering with Prostate Cancer UK, who do such vital work in tackling the disease. We have a significant presence in Scotland and using our network of shops we have a real opportunity to raise awareness of a cancer which is now the third biggest killer in the UK, and encourage as many of our customers, colleagues and members of our communities to seek support if they have any concerns about their health.”

ABB Scotland, the trade body representing the majority of retail betting shops in Scotland, is part funding the campaign.
ABB Scotland spokesman Donald Morrison said: “Given the age profile of many of our customers, typically male and over 50, this partnership makes perfect sense. Hopefully, the close relationship between shop staff and customers means we can break down some of the taboos surrounding the disease and encourage customers to have conversations with their GP that they might not otherwise have.”

Carers’ Allowance

MSP David Stewart is asking Highlands and Islands carers for their views after Labour launched a major discussion paper and consultation aimed at maximising the incomes of Scotland’s carers.

With the new carers’ allowance supplement starting to be paid into bank accounts, the Party is inviting carers to set out how best Holyrood can use its new powers over the allowance to bolster the support offered alongside the benefit.

Across Highlands and Islands carers receive the benefit, which now is worth the same Jobseeker’s Allowance each week after the Scottish Parliament unanimously agreed to increase its value.

The consultation seeks the opinions of carers on a number of suggestions aimed at increasing support for carers and their families, including maximising incomes and reducing council tax bills.

Other ideas include removing current limitations on other earnings or time spent in education, both of which can currently make someone ineligible for receiving carer’s allowance.

“Carers deserve every support for the valuable care and love they give every day to their relatives and friends,” said Mr Stewart.

“With the carer’s allowance supplement finally starting to pay out, that payment must be the start of the new support, not the end.

“Now is the time to think about the overall package of support provided alongside entitlement to carer’s allowance covering work, study, and across public services.

“That is why Scottish Labour has launched this major consultation to ensure their voices are heard.

“I want the thousands of carers across the Highlands and Islands to have a voice in what kind of support they want and need.

“Scottish Labour has already secured valuable extra support for carers in Scotland – and we stand ready to continue the fight on their behalf.”

The discussion paper can be seen here: https://scottishlabour.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Recognising-Carers-Carers-Allowance-Discussion-Paper.pdf

Carers can respond to the discussion paper survey at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/FJ7QB3S