Scotland politics

Week ahead at Holyrood: Statement on patient safety in hospitals

Queen Elizabeth University Hospital Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow has been at the centre of patient safety concerns

Patient safety in Scottish hospitals will be under the microscope this week following a series of high profile deaths.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman will make a statement at 14:20 on Tuesday.

Two newborn babies died in a Glasgow maternity hospital last month after having been infected with a rare bacterium never seen before in Scotland.

Separately, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde is awaiting the results of investigations into the deaths of two patients at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow after they contracted an infection linked to pigeon droppings.

The Scottish government has already ordered a full review of the construction, design and maintenance of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

But MSPs have said there are wider questions around safety in healthcare environments.

What else is on the agenda at Holyrood this week?

Tuesday - organ donation

Image copyright SPL
Image caption Potential donors currently have to sign up to the NHS Organ Donation Register

After the statement on patient safety, MSPs are set to debate the Human Tissue (Authorisation) (Scotland) Bill.

The legislation would see a shift to an "opt-out" system for organ donation, whereby it would be assumed people were in favour of donating unless stated otherwise.

Currently, people have to "opt in" to donation by registering before they die.

MSPs on the health committee backed the bill earlier this month, as long as it was rolled out alongside an "awareness-raising campaign".

But critics of the bill have warned there is little evidence to indicate an opt-out system would increase donor rates.

In the evening, SNP MSP Jenny Gilruth will use her member's debate to highlight February as LGBT history month.

Earlier in the day, Holyrood Live will be covering the justice committee as it begins to take evidence on the prosecution of elder abuse.

During the passage of the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act, the committee heard calls for a new offence in relation to elder abuse - while this was not added to that legislation, MSPs did agree to return to the matter.

The committee is hearing from charities which work with older people, as well as justice experts.

Wednesday - carer's allowance

Image copyright SPL
Image caption The Scottish government created a new carer's allowance supplement last year

Scottish Labour have the floor on Wednesday afternoon and have opted to split their time over two debates: one on carers and the other on justice.

The party has said carers have lost out on thousands of pounds since 2010 because of a UK government decision to change the inflation measure, meaning benefit payments have not increased as much.

It will call on the Scottish government to boost the carers' allowance.

The focus of their justice themed debate is expected to be sentencing guidelines - and specifically making them more transparent.

The first set of guidelines for courts came into force in November.

After that, SNP MSP Emma Harper is leading a member's debate on eating disorders awareness week.

In the morning, Brexit Secretary Mike Russell is appearing before the finance committee as it continues its inquiry into UK common frameworks.

No doubt the prime minister's recent decision to delay a fresh Brexit vote in the House of Commons will be raised.

Thursday - 2021 census

More than usual has been packed into the agenda on Thursday.

After first minister's questions at noon and a member's debate on world hearing day led by Tory MSP Alexander Stewart, MSPs will get a shorter lunch as a statement is scheduled for 14:00.

This will focus on immigration policy and how UK government decisions will impact the economy.

The Scottish government published a report last week on the likely impact of a no deal Brexit, warning net migration would fall - and possibly turn negative.

While accepting this reduction could mitigate a rise in unemployment, the report suggested the loss of migrants could create skills shortages.

Another statement on devolved benefits will take place after that.

The rest of the afternoon will be on the Census (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill which seeks to allow the government to add voluntary questions on sexual orientation and transgender status in the 2021 census.

Supporters of the changes say that it will allow better protection of trans people and provide useful data for planning services like gender identity clinics.

But critics warn that it is important to know a person's assigned sex at birth for health service planning.

Importantly, the bill will not alter the questions on the census itself - but will simply give the Scottish government the power to do so at a later stage.

Full committee listings for the morning are yet to be published, but it is interesting to note the equalities committee will take evidence on the Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Bill for the first time.

Dubbed the smacking bill, it proposes to ban the physical punishment of children.

It has been brought forward by Green MSP John Finnie but has received the backing of the Scottish government.

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