Nationalists must take concerns seriously

The SNP Government recently released statistics which revealed that thousands of Borders patients could potentially lose out should Scotland vote to separate from the rest of the UK.

In the last ten years, tens of thousands of inpatient and outpatient appointments have been made at English hospitals for Borders residents as part of the cross-borders agreement between the NHS in England and Scotland.

If Scotland chooses to break-away it would be regarded as a foreign country and such arrangements would not necessarily continue to apply. The Borders would be particularly hard hit by this issue, with local residents having been given 21,899 outpatient appointments in England in the last ten years. This would not only prove to be a massive inconvenience for many Borders residents, but would also restrict their access to important medical care.

It is just another example of how much we gain from being in the United Kingdom, and a stark reminder of what we stand to lose should we choose split from it. These figures show just how strong the bond between health boards in Scotland and the rest of the UK is, and we would be foolish to break it.

I have no doubts that the nationalists will simply dismiss this as ‘scaremongering’, but it is time that they started listening to these concerns and taking them seriously. People in the Borders are starting to see through their constant bluster and delay when it comes to tackling the big issues of this debate, and they want to hear some serious answers from Alex Salmond and the nationalists.

I was deeply concerned to hear of the financial losses of the Co-op Group and the consequences it would have for their farming operation. With the group expected to announce a loss of over £2billion they have decided to put their farming group up for sale. They employ several people across the Borders at various sites, and this announcement has put all of these individual’s jobs at risk.

My primary concern is to ensure that these jobs are protected, and I have contacted the Co-op to ask for more information about their plans for the Borders. For every one of their employees this will be an uncertain and anxious time, and I am keen to find a solution that will provide each one of them with long-term job security.

My next surgeries in Berwickshire will be on Wednesday, March 19, when I will be at the Volunteer Hall in Duns at 9am and the Community Centre in Coldstream at 10.15am. No appointment is necessary so please feel free to come along if you have a problem which you think that I might be able to help with.