6 March 2012

Protecting A Reputation

With the close links to the fishing industry that so many people in Banffshire & Buchan Coast have, there can scarcely be anyone who does not know someone who has been affected by the difficulties the fishing industry has faced over the years.

There have been enormous challenges that have had to be overcome and sacrifices that have been made to meet the requirements of the failed Common Fisheries Policy.

However, the fact that the CFP has manifestly failed to conserve fish stocks or deliver a profitable, sustainable fishing industry is not a justification for ignoring the rules that are currently in place. The innovations that the Scottish industry have been allowed to bring in such as the Catch Quota System has only been possible on the back of the reputation for following the rules that the Scottish fishing industry has built up.

That is why the recent sentencing of fishermen who illegally landed black fish worth millions of pounds several years ago brought to an end an incredibly disappointing episode.

Their actions put at risk the hard worn reputation that the rest of the industry had managed to build up through extreme sacrifices and put the livelihoods of others at risk. Yet what happened was clearly not representative of the vast majority of the industry. If we are to successfully make the case for fisheries reform, it will be on the back of the incredibly positive reputation that the Scottish fishing industry has built up.

What is important is that those who have done wrong have been punished and the reputation of the industry as a whole is maintained going forward. This is a critical time for the fishing industry’s future and we cannot afford the previous misdeeds of a few to tarnish the outstanding reputation of the industry today.

Healthcare in the local community

When it comes to healthcare, the service that the National Health Service provides is something that we often take for granted. Yet anyone who has received treatment or has a loved one who has needed it will know only too well the incredible efforts that NHS staff make to make us healthy. They face enormous challenges, but regularly overcome them to deliver the best quality care possible.

Yet one of the challenges that NHS staff should not need to face is inappropriate facilities in which to treat patients. Whether it is a GP check-up or a longer hospital stay, we all want to have access to clean and modern healthcare facilities as close to home as possible.

That is why the official re-opening of Chalmers Hospital in Banff following its £15 million redevelopment is fantastic news for the local community and indeed the wider Banffshire & Buchan Coast area. The re-developed hospital will provide a range of services including casualty, minor procedures, x-ray, renal dialysis, an outpatients’ clinic, a telemedicine facility and a GP ward.

There are also upgraded facilities for physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech & language therapy and podiatry. It has taken some time for these improvements to be made, but now that they are in place people in and around Banff have access to fantastic health facilities right on their own doorsteps, making some of the long journeys that patients have faced a thing of the past.

I know that both patients and the staff working there will be delighted that the work to upgrade the hospital is complete and I am positive that it will let the incredibly dedicated NHS staff in the area deliver an even higher standard of care than ever before.

Stewart Stevenson
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