Guest Editorial: Joe was an inspiration beyond Moray confines

Rhoda Grant is a Labour MSP for Highlands & Islands, which includes Moray – today she writes her first article exclusively for insideMoray in the first of a monthly series penned by Moray’s parliamentary representatives…..

Rhoda Grant MSP launching anti-bullying initiative in Moray

First and foremost I want to start by paying tribute to the elder statesman of Moray Council, a seasoned political figure, a gentleman, a friend to many and an ambassador for Buckie and its surrounding area.

Of course I am talking about 86 year old Joe Mackay who passed away a couple of weeks ago.

Joe was always at the heart of Buckie life where he grew up and the port from which he did most of his fishing. He was a community stalwart, a champion of local issues and a wise man who possessed lots of common sense.

In 2004 Joe became Buckie Citizen of the Year after he single-handedly cleaned up the Buckie burn area. This was the inspiration for Buckie High School to award the most outstanding student at the school each year with the Joe Mackay Award.

Politics became Joe’s passion and all who met or spoke with him knew he had the best interests of Buckie and its people always in mind. Joe was such a well known and respected local figure that he will not be forgotten. Our sympathies go to Joe’s extended family.

Councillor Joe Mackay

Health Service

Health is a key issue for all of us and health inequalities tend to be caused by something other than the health service, it is lack of income to provide a good diet, lack of good quality housing because of cost issues. These issues mean that people are less healthy than their better off neighbours.

Another key issue is the fact that people from poorer backgrounds do not access health services as quickly as their more affluent neighbours.

There is a variety of reasons for that, including the distance from services, the cost of accessing services through the transport system, daily pressures and the fact that fighting for survival often leaves people with little time to take care of themselves, and a lack of expectation of help or indeed entitlement to services and good health.

Distance from services can also impact on people from rural areas making them less likely to access services.

On the other hand, services are demanded by the more affluent in our society, who are used to accessing services and assistance and know their rights and entitlements to treatment.

That means that they are more likely to access health services while, due to their lifestyle, they enjoy better health. I am not advocating that we ration healthcare for the better-off—only that we put in place strategies that ensure that the less well-off access the same level of care, or more if their health dictates it.

I believe that new health and social care integrated boards need to tackle health inequalities and ensure that health promotion and healthcare resources go where they are most needed.

Moray Council and NHS Grampian are now consulting on whether to have an integrated board or to integrate health and social care services through a lead agency model. Whichever model they adopt I really hope that they look at health inequalities.

Both organisations need to tackle access to services, however this must go wide to tackle the causes of inequality, access to income, work and good housing. We all must take the issue on board and ensure that we tackle health inequalities. It must become a focus for all Government Departments, agencies and indeed businesses.

Only when that happens will we see a difference.

We must all strive for the day when health inequalities and their cause no longer exist. I look forward to the outcome of the integrated health and social care consultation here in Moray.

Anti-Bullying Campaign

On the 19 December 2014, working with my partners in UNISON and Moray Councillor Sean Morton, we launched our anti bullying web site Tobie (Tackling Oppressive Behaviour In Employment).

I was delighted and amazed that in the first three or four days we secured 1500 ‘hits’ on our site. The website can be accessed via and it is designed to offer support and a means by which those suffering at the hands of bullies can get advice and assistance.

Bullying is horrible human behaviour and it should not be tolerated. If you are subjected to this form of harassment, please do not sit and do nothing, look at this web site, speak to someone, anyone about it, or contact me direct. Bullying can sap your energy and confidence, however most bullies back down if challenged.

Many cannot challenge them alone, hence the website to provide links to help and support.

Rhoda Grant is a Regional MSP for the Highlands and Islands, covering Moray and Argyll and Bute working alongside her colleague David Stewart MSP.

Their website is and they can be contacted at their Inverness Office on 01463 716299.

Rhoda has recently been appointed as the Shadow Minister for Sport, Health Improvement and Mental Health in the Scottish Parliament. Her email address is

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