We need connected ... fast

Pic Lisa Ferguson 20/02/2015'Scottish Conservative Conference 2015, EICC, Edinburgh'John Lamont MSP with Davif Mundell (Scotland Office Minister and MP fo Dumbartonshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale) holds and open debate on the issues of Securing Scottish Future

Pic Lisa Ferguson 20/02/2015'Scottish Conservative Conference 2015, EICC, Edinburgh'John Lamont MSP with Davif Mundell (Scotland Office Minister and MP fo Dumbartonshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale) holds and open debate on the issues of Securing Scottish Future

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BT Funding announcement

Encouraging words recently from BT chief executive Gavin Patterson who has announced his company will work with the UK Government to introduce a minimum broadband speed of between 5 and 10 Mbps across all homes.

They also want to go further than the UK Government’s commitment to provide 95% of homes with superfast fibre broadband.

I will be following the implementation of this promise closely and contacting colleagues in the UK Government to ensure they are working closely with BT to implement this scheme. But I also think much more needs to be done by both the UK and Scottish Governments to ensure we have decent internet connection in rural areas like the Borders.

One thing which I think would help would be an expansion of the rural broadband fund. This already exists, but it is only available to community-led broadband schemes. We should make more money available and should open it up to individuals and businesses to bid for government money.

NHS Borders in the news

Despite the hard work of staff at NHS Borders, the organisation is having a tough time because of a lack of resources.

It has been reported that the health board needs to find £7million worth of savings this year, a task made much more difficult by a Scottish Government which is refusing to invest in our health care system. While spending on the NHS in England has been protected, it has actually fallen in Scotland under the SNP.

The number of patients complaining about their care in NHS Borders has risen by nearly 80%. It is a testament to the hard work of staff that despite this huge increase, they are dealing with complaints very quickly, with the vast majority dealt with within the 20-day target.

But alarm bells should be ringing. Complaints are going up, operations are being cancelled and the health board still needs to find savings. It is clear that nurses and doctors are struggling to cope and need more resources. The Scottish Government must act fast and ensure NHS Borders is properly funded.

Wear it Pink

I was delighted to do my bit again this year for Breast Cancer Now’s ‘Wear it Pink’ day. This event, now in its 14th year, encourages politicians and the public to look a bit silly by wearing as little or as much pink as they like to show their support for breast cancer research. The campaign has raised an incredible £27million thanks to the generosity of many thousands of people taking part. This money goes to world-class breast cancer research that saves and improves lives, giving quicker diagnosis and more effective treatments.

I was honoured to welcome some women from the Borders whose lives have been affected by breast cancer to the Parliament recently. They were attending an evening reception to mark the campaign.

Every year around 4,500 people in Scotland are diagnosed with breast cancer, with around 1,000 dying from the disease.

This year’s Wear it Pink day is October 23, and I would encourage you all to participate or donate to this truly worthwhile cause.