Like most other elected representatives in Fife, I have been inundated with complaints from people who have been experiencing serious problems when trying to book an appointment to receive their flu jab. This is despite earlier assurances that NHS Fife would bring in enough staff to deal with the volume of calls. I have written to Tricia Marwick, Chair of Fife NHS Board expressing my concern. It’s important to stress that there will be enough appointments and vaccines for everyone who is entitled to one, but it’s not acceptable that weeks after we were promised the problem would be solved people are still struggling to get through.

I have joined SNP colleagues in Fife and have requested that the Scottish Government prioritises Fife if its Draft Infrastructure Investment Plan 2021-22 – 2025-26 is approved. There’s a lot of good news in the plan, including a big increase in funding for flood defence work. Our communities saw unprecedented rainfall at the beginning of August, which caused devastation in parts of Kinglassie and Cardenden. The real worry is that because of climate change, extreme weather like this will become more common. The increase in flood defence spending is therefore very welcome and I hope it will be supported by MSPs from all parties. I’ll continue to press for Fife to get our fir share of the new money and for Kinglassie and Cardenden to be high up on the list of priorities for the work.

My Private Members Bill to protect our NHS from being sold off as part of a post-Brexit trade deal was officially published earlier this week. I’m hoping to be able to ask Parliament to support it on 6 November. The UK Government insists that there’s no way they’ll allow the NHS to be included in a deal with the USA or anyone else but as we all know, governments can and do change their minds. I want this protection to be built into an Act of Parliament rather than having to rely on the Prime Minister keeping his promises.

As the only Scottish member of the Public Accounts Committee I helped to prepare a report last week into the work of HMRC. As a Committee, we recorded our disappointment that so long after the pandemic started, HMRC still had not come up with a way of identifying small businesses that had lost out on previous support packages. Roughly 3 million workers were left without support, apart from applying for benefits, during the full lock-down earlier this year. At the time we were told there wasn’t enough time to design a financial support system for them. Nearly seven months after the first coronavirus restrictions were imposed, the excuse that there hasn’t been time is wearing a bit thin. Our recovery from the economic damage caused by COVID will depend on a diverse and thriving small business sector. There’s no excuse for deliberately excluding so many hard-working small business owners from the support they need