Scotland politics

Week ahead: Health secretary to be quizzed on hospital safety

Jeane Freeman
Image caption Jeane Freeman is Scotland's health secretary

The health secretary is to face questions over safety concerns at hospitals.

Holyrood's health committee launched an inquiry after issues with two hospitals in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Jeane Freeman faced calls for her resignation last week after it emerged a child's death at the Royal Hospital for Children (RHC) could be linked to contaminated water.

Speaking to BBC Good Morning Scotland, Ms Freeman said she would make a statement to parliament about NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde later in the week, now confirmed for Wednesday.

In January, it was confirmed two patients had died after contracting a fungal infection linked to pigeon droppings at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.

And in Edinburgh, the opening of the new sick children's hospital has been repeatedly delayed.

Health committee convener Lewis Macdonald said: "It is absolutely vital that patients in Scotland have faith that all healthcare facilities in Scotland meet the most robust standards of safety and cleanliness and pose no threat to their health."

What else is happening at the Scottish Parliament this week?

Tuesday - fisheries

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The annual sea fisheries negotiation with the EU are the topic of debate on Tuesday afternoon - but expect MSPs to trade blows over Brexit.

EU member states agree fishing quotas in a bid to ensure stability and prevent over-fishing.

The UK government's Fisheries Bill, which would have seen the UK continue to take part in these negotiations after Brexit, fell with the dissolution of parliament.

While fishing is a devolved matter, it is the UK government which represents UK fishing interests at EU level.

Ahead of this, there will be a ministerial statement on the International Year of Plant Health.

Afterwards, SNP MSP Stuart McMillan highlights road safety week in a member's debate.

In addition to the morning's health committee there will also be;

  • The justice committee is discussing a petition calling for a register of interests for members of the judiciary. This is being highlighted by Moi Ali. who is a former judicial complaints reviewer and also resigned from the Scottish Police Authority board after a row over transparency.
  • Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham is discussing the planned deposit return scheme with MSPs. Last week MSPs were warned the scheme could unintentionally increase plastic waste.

Wednesday - Universal Credit

We being our chamber coverage earlier than usual with a ministerial statement on the 30th Anniversary of the UNCRC .

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman will deliver a statement on the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital ward closure, after details emerged of the deaths of two children at Glasgow's largest hospital.

Scottish Labour will lead a debate on Universal Credit on Wednesday afternoon.

Launched in 2010, it was designed to simplify the benefits system but it has proved controversial.

Research published recently by the Trussell Trust found a great deal of food bank users are from homes affected by illness or disability, and problems with the benefits system can leave people with "no protection from hunger and poverty".

The party will also host a debate titled "investing in Scotland" and afterwards Labour MSP Iain Gray leads a member's debate on the International Year of the Periodic Table.

Image caption Fire crews worked through the night to tackle the blaze in the building on Albert Cross in Pollokshields

In the morning, the local government committee will discuss building regulations and fire safety.

It comes just a week after a tenement building in Glasgow collapsed after a fire spread from a ground floor shop.

The inquiry was opened in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire, where 72 people died in 2017.

Thursday - TV licences for over 75s

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The decision to scrap TV licenses for 3.7 million over-75s will be considered by MSPs on Thursday.

In June, the BBC announced only low-income households where one person receives the pension credit benefit will still be eligible for a free licence.

In 2015, the UK government announced the BBC would take over the cost of providing free licences for over-75s by 2020 as part of the fee settlement.

But that would have cost £745m, a fifth of the BBC's budget, by 2021/22.

The SNP has called for licence decisions to be made independently of government, while Labour has pledged to save free TV licences.

According to the Sun on Sunday, the prime minister ordered officials to find a way to ensure no over-75s would need to pay as a "priority" and the Lib Dems say scrapping free TV licences for over-75s will have a "huge impact" on the mental wellbeing of older people.

Also on Thursday afternoon, Nicola Sturgeon will be quizzed during FMQs and Tory MSP Annie Wells will lead a debate on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

We begin the day with the Equalities and Human Rights Committee, as it takes evidence on race equality in Scotland.

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