Working together

December 5th , 2011

It has been a fractious week in politics, and this time it spilled on to the streets.

Around 300,000 workers took to the picket lines in protest at the public service cuts, angered by a UK Government they feel has betrayed them.

Pay freezes, cuts to services and jobs, recruitment freezes and now pension reforms have been too much for workers who are now being told to expect the pain of the economic downturn to last longer than expected.

I spent some time going round the picket lines and the sense of frustration was palpable for many of them.

It sparked the usual blame game in Holyrood and Westminster, as the political parties tried to shift the focus on to each other – the truth is they are both to blame.

For those watching from outside, it would have done little to cheer those on strike on a cold and rainy day.

Yet buried among those fall-outs and protests was some good parliamentary work, across party lines, that I believe could make life better for some of the most vulnerable in our community.

As convener of the health committee, I worked with SNP and Tory colleagues to conduct an inquiry into the regulation of care of elderly.

I am sure many of us will have experience, whether it be your grandparents, or your mum or dad, or even an elderly friend of relative, where gaps in the care system have let them down.

This week, we produced a cross-party report that challenged some of those failures and pointed out some ways we can address the complex needs of our ageing population.

Our report found that fundamental to that ambition is ensuring dignity for our elders and respect for those who provide that care by giving them the training, skills and pay that go with such a demanding job.

It is something we can’t afford to get wrong.