It only seems like yesterday when I last wrote to you about juggling work and family needs across the warm summer months. Now, Parliament is back with a bang – and it’s as if I haven’t stopped talking since August 30th. At least, up to now anyway, my vocal cords are holding up.
Our NHS and ambulance service is in crisis. This has been the big, ongoing, story – and the focus of much of my work. You probably know the statistics by now, which include the worst Accident and Emergency Department waiting times on record, our hospitals short of some 1,000 acute beds ahead of winter, the fire brigade, taxi drivers and the British Army called in to help.
In the main plenary of parliament, in committee, through newspaper stories and on television, I’ve pushed the Scottish Government to recognise its shortcomings and I continue to push for credible action.
I’ve been responsible for leading the charge for the main Conservative opposition since September 16th when the Party appointed me Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care. As an MSP of just four months standing, I’m truly honoured to serve.
Just four days earlier, on September 12th, I was on the banks of the River Forth at Cramond, Edinburgh, for the colourful and uplifting Ganesh Chaturthi Festival. This was so well attended by people of all faiths. I felt so proud that here in Scotland our Hindu traditions are well respected.
I still work one day a week as a GP. This, I believe, makes me a better MSP, given my focus on health. I see and feel the needs of my fellow Glaswegians through the lens of a doctor. So when I’m trying to influence government and push for change, I’m confident that I know what I’m talking about.
During September, I had the pleasure to engage with key stakeholders in my constituency including the Glasgow Beer Works, a superb small business that brews beer and packages for other drink makers. For me, it’s important to get behind our small firms in order to support Glasgow’s economy and create jobs. I also had the pleasure of visiting The Glasgow Academy and the Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice, which does so much for our community.
Another highlight was meeting representatives of the University of Glasgow to learn more about its world-class research and innovation and how it is managing a safe return of students to campus.
In terms of local campaigns, I supported the ongoing drive to re-open the century-old Couper Institute and Library, raised awareness of the dreadful potholed roads in some parts of the city and lobbied to have more stair-free access to stations on Glasgow’s Cathcart suburban railway.
Throughout the month I’ve continued to post videos on social media of my thoughts for the day. I call this my ‘hashtag’ lunchtime walk – because I shoot this when I go and stretch my legs.
You are welcome to check me out on Twitter - and look for #lunchtimewalk.