Editorial: David Stewart MSP on Road Safety, Fire Safety and Diabetes

A WELCOME RETURN this morning to David Stewart MSP – has been some time since he put a report together for insideMORAY, but he is back today…..

I AM DELIGHTED to have the opportunity to write a guest article for Inside Moray once again. Space is limited so on this occasion I just wanted to focus on three areas of my work – Road Safety, Fire Sprinklers Bill and Insulin and Diabetics.

Road Safety

I have written to the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Michael Mathieson asking the Government to consider making the Drink/Drug Driving Rehabilitation Scheme ( DDRS) mandatory for all convicted drink/drug drivers in Scotland.

The DDRS is an informal educational training workshop that provides participants with knowledge to reduce the likelihood they will be re-convicted of drink/drug driving again. The incentive for the drink/drug driver is that if they complete the course they can get up to 25% off their driving ban, but become more responsible and safer drivers in the process. The positive effect for the general public is that drink/drug drivers are getting further educated and our roads should become safer.

The DDRS has an agreed syllabus and service providers must facilitate the course as agreed at the time of approval. Those attending will be expected to participate in discussions, small group work and written exercises.
The facilitator’s role is to ensure you have support to complete the course. It is not a pass or fail course and entails 16 hours of education. Participants can only be referred by a Sheriff at the time of sentencing.

Of course drink driving is still an issue that we need to address. Here in Scotland I was one of the many MSPs who pushed for and the Government enacted the reduced drink drive limit for alcohol from 80mg to 50mg in every 100ml of blood. The Governments Road Safety Strategy for 2020 has set a target of 40 % reduction in the number of fatalities and a 55 % reduction in the numbers of people seriously injured on the nation’s roads.

During a week long Police Scotland campaign in May 2017, a total of 121 drivers were detected for drink driving offences following 3619 breath tests carried out, which equates to one in 30 of every test carried out, which is one in 30 too many.

Clearly there is a need for education with regards drink and drug driving. This is where the DDRS comes in to enhance all that is currently being done. As highlighted the course combines presentations, group exercises, group discussions and videos used in conjunction with a course workbook with various exercises to complete and is all geared to educate the convicted driver as to the error of their ways.

Let’s face it, if the convicted driver is not referred to such a scheme, where are they to be educated as to the danger they pose to other road users and what is to stop them continuing to drink/drug drive once their ban has been completed.

To complete the course the convicted driver would have to pay a course fee of up to £150.All that we could be doing to address this issue we should be doing and I think this scheme is structured to address some gaps in education.
You can also check out the Speeds Down Campaign covered earlier by insideMORAY. http://www.insidemoray.com/new-safety-campaign-to-focus-on-the-dangers-of-excessive-speed/

Fire Safety Bill

Last month I announced a proposal for a Member’s Bill to install sprinklers in all new social housing. Over the coming months I will launch a consultation on the proposal.

The aim of the Bill is to place a duty on local authorities and housing associations to install sprinklers in new build social housing. However, as part of this consultation I will also consider what action could be taken in the private rented sector and retrospectively.

The tragic events of the Grenfell disaster have put fire safety to the forefront of many people’s minds. There is a small gap in our legislation that I think can be filled by a common-sense proposal that will save lives.

Labour in government had a proud record of improving fire safety by passing the Buildings Act 2003 which required sprinklers in schools, residential care buildings and high rise domestic buildings. Now, I believe Scotland should follow the example of Wales and pass legislation to make the installation of sprinklers in all new dwellings compulsory.

That is why I am proposing a Bill to make sure all newly built social housing have a sprinkler system installed. This is a simple change in law that will save lives.

Insulin and Diabetics

I should declare an interest in this issues, as I am the long-standing joint convener of the cross-party group on diabetes and as the first Scottish parliamentary diabetes champion.

I put on record my thanks to all the groups and people in Scotland who work with people with diabetes, including Diabetes Scotland, the scientists and researchers and, of course, the dedicated doctors, carers, consultants and diabetes nurses.

We should not forget our proud history on the issue. In 1921, a Scot, Professor John Macleod, along with Banting and Best, discovered insulin, for which he received a Nobel prize in medicine. Before 1921, having type 1 diabetes was a death sentence. My late father-in-law was diagnosed at the age of 10 and was told that he would live only until he was 20 but, in fact, he lived for another 65 years. He taught me that, with well-regulated pen-needle injections and diet, people can live a normal and balanced life.

What is the big picture? The prevalence of the condition has doubled since 2003. It is the main cause of blindness in those of working age, and 10 per cent of NHS hospital expenditure relates to the treatment of diabetes and its complications. Forty per cent of people living with type 1 have some form of diabetic retinopathy.

Scotland has real strength in the life sciences and biotech sectors. We have a real comparative advantage that we should exploit.

My postbag has been pretty full with regards to parents with diabetic children wanting to know why the freestyle libre glucose monitoring device will not be available on the NHS (Highland and Grampian )from 1 November 2017. This device does not involve routine finger pricks. Additionally, the FreeStyle Libre sensor is made by a process which means the sensitivity of the sensors vary very little. This means that is calibrated at the factory – so you don’t need to calibrate it again using a finger prick.

It continuously measures the glucose concentration in your interstitial fluid, and stores eight hours of data.

The actual fact of the matter is that this device is already available to buy privately and it has gone through all the Government tests and processes in England and wales. NO NHS Board in Scotland yet has access to this device as it still has the approved process for such medical devices to go through before it can be approved.