HIV data incident NHS Highland

Scottish Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, MSP David Stewart, asked Nicola Sturgeon about the incident where the email addresses of almost 40 people living with HIV were accidentally made public by NHS Highland.

Mr Stewart, who represents the Highlands and Islands, raised the issue at First Minister’s Questions today.

He said: “The First Minister will be well aware of an alleged data breach by NHS Highland which exposed confidential names and email addresses of 37 people living with HIV.

“Whilst I welcome the apology by the board, does the First Minister share my view that confidentiality is a core principle of the NHS and the decision to disclose HIV status is a matter for individuals themselves and theirs alone.”

Nicola Sturgeon agreed very strongly saying that the safety of patient data was of “the utmost importance”.

She added that the breach was reported to Information Commissioner within 24 hours. NHS Highland had taken steps to apologise to patients, respond directly to any concerns and a formal internal review was being carried out. The First Minister admitted that “clearly there have been failings”.

Afterwards Mr Stewart added that he had written to NHS Highland’s Chief Executive, Iain Stewart, to ask that he be kept informed of the outcome of the internal review and the findings of the Information Commissioner.

“Keeping patients’ data confidential is essential for everyone and I hope lessons can be learned as a result of this breach,” said the MSP.
“HIV is a very sensitive subject for those with the virus and I am told this breach has caused some distress.”

Elgin doctors explain concerns over new GP Contract

MSPs need to get out and about to understand the problems of the health service and yesterday David Stewart was invited to Elgin Health Centre to talk about the effect of the new GP Contract on rural practices.
“Thanks to doctors Robert Lockhart and Charlie Hornsby for the briefing,” said Mr Stewart.
“You may remember the practice was featured in the BBC2 series The Family Doctors. It’s one of the busiest practices in Scotland.
“As a member of the Health and Sport Committee, I will be investigating Primary Care and the valid concerns of GPs throughout the remote and rural Highlands and Islands.”

Possible causes for health service bullying – Sturrock review

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP and Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, David Stewart, says the Sturrock review shines a light on the possible causes of the pressures encountered by front line staff.

He highlights a section in the report on possible causes of bullying and harassment in the NHS and he accuses the Government of taking health service staff for granted for far too long.

Although Sturrock says there are multiple causes of the symptoms, detailed in the report, he touches on increased pressure to perform and meet targets.
Sturrock says: “…over the past ten years in times of austerity, with budget restrictions and reduced spending, financial constraints can often lead to people feeling overwhelmed at work with too much to do and not enough time or resource.

This is likely to cause stress and may lead to behaviour which is inappropriate. I have heard a number of examples of this, with senior and other employees at breaking point.”

Mr Stewart said: “There is no doubt that austerity is harming our public services and Sturrock shines a light on what the result can be – staff being bullied and harassed due to financial constraints being placed on them.

“While nothing excuses bullying in the work place, this factor has to be seriously looked into. I think most people will see the results of pressure in their work place, but add to this growing staff shortages in the health service, and particularly in NHS Highland, and a picture is building of the possible effect on staff and managers’ behaviours.”

In Parliament yesterday Mr Stewart’s Labour Highlands and Islands colleague, Rhoda Grant, raised concerns that problems within NHS Highland, and throughout the Scottish health service, were fed by staff shortages and cuts putting enormous pressure on staff.

She asked Health Secretary Jeane Freeman, how she was going to tackle this but Ms Freeman did not accept that a significant proportion of difficultly was around the financial resourcing of the boards.

Mrs Grant said today: “Our health service is in crisis and the SNP Government are in denial and have dragged their feet about tackling problems created by austerity. It’s time they took their heads out of the sand.”

Sturrock was told from one employee: “Austerity has been a major factor. The NHS was used to solutions made out of additional investment from Government. When this becomes no longer possible, the pressure within the entire NHS system increased.”

One director told Sturrock: “As a senior leader I have felt bullied and harassed by the organisation, by the Scottish Government. What I do believe is that in the NHS now people are feeling so pressurised. It’s a horrible environment. It’s targets. It’s finance. It’s political. Populist policies don’t have the resources to fill them. NHSH is just one health board of many that are suffering.”

Mr Stewart added: “NHS staff are the bedrock of our health service, but they have been taken for granted by the Government for too long.

“To see real change in the working environments and culture across health and social care, health boards and the Scottish Government need to address the systemic issues that are causing health and care professionals to become disillusioned and burnt out.”

Mr Stewart said he would be raising these issues as a member of the Health and Sport Committee and with Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman.

* After Ms Freeman’s statement on the Sturrock review yesterday Mr Stewart told MSPs: “NHS Highland is my home board area. I have dealt with the board for over 20 years in two Parliaments, from the chief executive and boards members, to cleaners and patients. No amount of experience prepared me for the GMB organised event in the autumn of last year. Over 60 people attended who spoke with one voice on the toxic culture of bullying within the organisation. Can the Cab Sec outline what new system can be put in place for all those who lost jobs, who left jobs and who suffered mental health problems. We must never forget their experience.
Mr Stewart also asked Ms Freeman what assessment had been made of the effect bullying had had on the credibility of NHS Highland and its ability to recruit and retain staff

MSP raises issue of opioid addiction at FMQs

MSP raises issue of opioid addiction at FMQ’s
Regional Labour MSP for the Highlands and Islands and Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, David Stewart raised the issue of opioid addiction to the First Minister during FMQ’s today (02/05/2019).
David Stewart asked the First Minister in Holyrood today, what assessment the Scottish Government has made regarding opioid addiction after The Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Dame Dally Davies, spoke to The Sunday Times highlighting how serious the issue of painkiller addiction has become.
Opioids such as morphine, tramadol and fentanyl are super strong painkillers, which can be highly addictive and can have serious health consequences.
Speaking at FMQ’s, David Stewart said: “Opioids contributed to 815 drug deaths in Scotland in 2017, does the First Minister share my serious concerns about addiction that is created by super-strength opioid painkillers, which have a dark side and can ruin lives every bit as much as illegal drugs can?”
The First Minister highlighted that Mr Stewart has raised these “legitimate” concerns in the past and that achieving a comprehensive picture of opioid use is a challenge due to the nature of illicit drug taking.
She added that the Chief Medical Officer for Scotland and a short-life working group of experts would examine the trends relating to long-term strong opioid prescription in Scotland.
Speaking after FMQ’s Mr Stewart said: “Opioid addiction is becoming a growing concern, and it’s imperative that the Scottish Government tackles it now before it gets any worst.”
Mr Stewart continued: “I understand that the Scottish Government has to examine trends relating to long-term opioid use however, it’s not dealing with the immediate issue and growing trend. Continued use of opoid over a long period can lead to addiction, which we all know can have life-altering consequences. I will continue to press for change so that this trend of opiate drug addiction can be stopped in its tracks.”

Job Vacancy: Office Manager

Rhoda Grant MSP and David Stewart MSP (Highlands & Islands) are looking for an enthusiastic and highly organised individual to join their team as an Office Manager based in Inverness.
This is a full-time position based in Inverness with some travel required.
Hours: 35 per week
Salary: £32,000 – £34,000

To read the job description and to apply please click here:

Cross-party group meeting on Diabetes held in Inverness

Delighted to chair the cross-party group meeting on Diabetes in Inverness Townhouse. This is the first time in Scottish Parliament history that the cross-party group meeting on diabetes has been held outwith the Scottish Parliament. Fantastic that it was held in my region and there was an excellent turn out.
Below is (left to right) Prof Sandra MacRury, Rupurt Pigot and Victoria Reetie who attended the meeting.

Shared Space

Subject: Highlands & Islands Regional MSP and Road safety campaigner, David Stewart gets answer at last from Government on shared space – cyclists/pedestrians


Highlands & Islands Regional MSP and Road Safety campaigner, David Stewart, gets answer at last from Government on shared space – cyclists/pedestrians


David Stewart said ” I wrote to the Government back in September last year, highlighting that I was becoming aware of incidents of conflict between cyclists and pedestrians on cycle path/footways. At that time, I suggested improved signage and consideration of a national shared space colour coded surface, whereby for example, cycle sections were painted green or blue and pedestrian sections left the normal colour. Even if we had signage that advised pedestrians to keep to the left and cyclists the right or whatever that would address the problem.


” Eventually I received a full response from the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Michael Matheson, advising me that the Active Travel Task Force in a recent report, recommended formally approved overarching walking and cycling design guidance for Scotland be produced for local and trunk roads. Update signage will also be considered.


“As part of this package a Working Group is being set up that will include Local Authorities, Sustrans, Regional Transport Partnerships and Transport Scotland.


” If Local Authorities wished to embark on an educational campaign they could apply to the Smarter Choices Smarter Place programme.


David concluded ” This is good, positive news which will address some of the confusion that currently exists on shared space areas and I look forward to seeing what the Working Group come up with.





Drivers and roundabouts

Highlands & Islands Regional MSP and Road Safety campaigner, David Stewart highlights that the number of drivers who are confused with negotiating roundabouts is worrying.

“It is a real worry that many drivers on our roads today are unsure as to how to negotiate a roundabout”, said David Stewart, “ which as a result can cause collisions and serious injury.

“In short a roundabout is a hazard and like any hazard you should approach it at an appropriate speed, make sure you are in the proper lane and remember Mirror, Signal, Manouvre.(MSM).

David Stewart said “ I have been contacted by constituents, the latest being yesterday,(11/3/19) raising this very issue. What we need to do here is to highlight how drivers should negotiate this particular hazard by means of education.

“There are three simple actions to remember:

1)” If you are following the road ahead on a main route (eg dual carriageway) you can often go ahead in either lane. If you approach on the left then you should stay to the left in new road, if you take the right hand lane on approach stay on the inside of the roundabout and exit in the right hand lane in new road.(See last graphic attached)

2)” When taking an exit to the right or going full circle, unless signs or markings indicate otherwise: signal right and approach in the right-hand lane. keep to the right on the roundabout until you need to change lanes to exit the roundabout. signal left after you have passed the exit before the one you want.(See attached)

3) “Some people think you should give way to vehicles approaching from the right on a roundabout. You must give way to any vehicles already on the roundabout before you enter.(See attached)

Highlands and Islands residents urged to respond to the Good Food Nation Consultation

The launch of the Scottish Government’s consultation on Good Food Nation legislation is being welcomed by Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, David Stewart.

Due to close on the 29th of March, the consultation seeks public views on what should be included in a new law for Scotland’s food system.

Scottish Labour have called on the Scottish Government to include a statutory right to food in the Good Food Nation bill.

Mr Stewart said:

“Reformation of our food system is long overdue. We advertise Scotland as a nation of food and drink, yet over a third of Scots worry about putting food on the table.

“An ever-increasing number of people continue to be priced out of a decent diet, forced to rely on food banks and suffering from poor nutrition. We undervalue the people who work to produce and process food, the wildlife, natural resources and farm animals that all form part of our food system. This cannot be allowed to continue.

“Scottish Labour believes there should be a statutory right to food which joins up all policies related to food and has the power to measure the government’s success in feeding its people.

“We need to work together to push for change. I urge all of my constituents in the Highlands and Islands to respond to the consultation and make their voice known.”

Those wishing to respond to the consultation can do so online by visiting or by writing to:
Good Food Nation,
Scottish Government,
Food and Drink Division,
Saughton House,
Broomhouse Drive,
EH11 3XD

  • Photo by Matthias Wilke from Pexels


Scottish Food Coalition

CAS Report:

Good Food Nation Consultation