Holyrood notes: Hospitals provide vital community services

I was very concerned to hear that NHS Borders is considering the future of community hospitals in Duns and Kelso, as part of a cost cutting exercise.

I understand the health board is considering all clinical services and will look towards providing more care at home. My view is that more care at home is certainly a laudable aim, but that closure of frontline services should not happen unless there is a lack of demand for these services.

Duns and Kelso community hospitals provide an important local service to patients and reduce the need for them to travel to Borders General, which we all know is an increasingly busy hospital.

I cannot support the removal of vital community services in Hawick, Duns and Kelso.

I understand that NHS Borders is facing a tough financial situation and it looking to make savings. However, I hope that they will benefit from some of the £125m sent to the NHS in Scotland by the UK Government, announced by the Chancellor last week.

The Scottish Government has announced its intention to legislate to allow the Government to force landowners to sell or free-up land.

The new Bill will state that if land owners were deemed to be acting as a “barrier to sustainable development”, the Government could force them to sell their own land. This will also have implications on tenants, who may have the land they rent forcibly sold by the state.

It’s astonishing that the SNP believes it is acceptable in a modern Scotland for Governments to force people to sell up, just because they don’t like what they are doing with their own land. This is yet another example of the dangerous state intervention the SNP seem obsessed about.

The Government needs to see landowners as part of the solution, not part of the problem and would do better to recognise the valuable contribution they make in the Borders to the economy and to jobs.

I will be strongly opposing this damaging legislation in Parliament.

I was delighted to visit Duns post office during their busy festive period to thank the staff for taking on all the extra work over the next few weeks to ensure everything is delivered on time.

The post office across the Borders are incredibly hard-working and I was delighted to thank those in Duns for their efforts not only at Christmas but throughout the year. Over the coming weeks when many of us will be warm in our homes, they will be out in all weathers to make sure that we get our Christmas mail.

It is without doubt the busiest time of year for them and while we will get a chance to relax many of them will be working flat out.

Like others who work particularly hard over the festive period, like those working in retail or in restaurants and pubs, they deserve our thanks for all their efforts. Without them, the festive period would simply not be the same.