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Politics: Minor Injury Units are a vital service for this part of the north-east

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MSP Gillian Martin
MSP Gillian Martin

A report from the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) earlier this month revealed what has been known by campaigners for many years – that WASPI women are owed compensation and justice for how they have been treated by the UK Government.

WASPI women must now be given a cast-iron guarantee that they will be given compensation. It is also vital both Tory and Labour figures do not roll back on their commitment to delivering justice.

Since the PHSO published its report last Thursday, both the Tory government and Sir Keir Starmer's Labour Party have repeatedly failed to give a guarantee that their parties will honour Westminster's responsibility to provide justice and full compensation to the estimated 3.6million WASPI women. The ombudsman investigated complaints that, since 1995, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has failed to provide accurate, adequate and timely information about areas of state pension reform. The 1995 Pensions Act and subsequent legislation raised the state pension age for women born on or after April 6 1950.

The publication of the report by the PHSO, in relation to the injustice suffered by those who have become known as the WASPI women, marks a critical juncture in this long-standing campaign. The sheer scale of this scandal demands a clear and compassionate response from all those tasked with political leadership. The report and its conclusions – compiled over five years - couldn’t be clearer. These women were failed, and they were failed by Westminster. The responsibility to act swiftly is paramount if justice is to be delivered.

It is estimated that around 40,000 those impacted sadly pass away each year. That means that some 240,000 people have already passed away without ever receiving any apology, any justice, or any compensation. It is also important to acknowledge that this was not solely an injustice inflicted upon them in the past, it is an enduring injustice impacting upon their daily lives.

Earlier this month, at the Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership Integration Joint Board meeting, both Tory and Lib Dem councillors voted to withdraw the evening and overnight service from Peterhead, Fraserburgh and Huntly.

The units treat injuries including cuts, small burns, sprains and suspected broken bones. This is a quite disgraceful decision made by the Conservatives and Lib Dems who voted for it. The reason we have these Minor Injuries Units in Aberdeenshire is that unlike Aberdeen City or Moray, we don’t have service provision like there is in Aberdeen at ARI or in Elgin. The North-east is full of rural communities and these units save people having to make long journeys to already busy locations. This decision is a blow to local service provision in Huntly in the north-east and I will be urging the Health and Social Care Partnership to reconsider.

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