All posts by rtgphilp

I'm Ray Philp, a freelance journalist currently studying a full-time postgrad at Edinburgh Napier University.

Health authority regrets ‘tragic’ nut allergy death

by Ray Philp

A health authority has expressed their “deepest sympathies” for the family of a 9 year old daughter who died of anaphylactic shock shortly after a GP had failed to prescribe a device that could have saved her life.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde were implicated in a report published by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman that criticised the lack of clear guidance regarding the prescription of adrenaline auto injector pens, or EpiPens.

An EpiPen might have saved Miss C. Photo: D Walsh

Continue reading Health authority regrets ‘tragic’ nut allergy death

Roses are red, violets are blue, cooking for singles is on the menu

By Ray Philp and Jen McClure

Valentine’s Day has a sorry history of prescribed gestures of love. Cards, flowers, chocolates, champagne, kissograms; none rise above the flotsam of generic sentiment. Redblue Introductions offers a life-raft for singles searching for a more personal touch to their quest for love, by offering cooking classes for singles.

Redblue Introductions, in partnership with New Town Cookery School, host a cooking school for up to 16 people. Upon arrival, singletons are encouraged to socialise before entering the kitchen to begin cooking. While men are tasked with preparing the ingredients, females mingle between prospective partners/chefs/househusbands and take turns to assist. Once the meal is served, singles dine together to enjoy their meal with a glass of wine.

Annabel Latto, director of Redblue Introductions, says that the cooking classes offer something unique to singles with busy lifestyles, and those who opt out of online dating.

“A lot of people are disillusioned [by online dating] and want to go back to a traditional way of meeting people, which is why introduction agencies are doing really well at the moment.”

Latto emphasises the benefits of a personalised service, saying that face-to-face dating services such as cooking classes are an effective way of ‘vetting’ dishonesty more commonly ascribed to dating websites.

“Our clients are professionals, they don’t really have the time to meet people or they’ve tried online dating – [they] meet someone and they look completely different.”

One thing is for certain: whether you’re a dab hand with a chopping board or you don’t know your parsnips from your elbow, things are sure to get steamy in the kitchen.

For more information, visit http://www.redblueintroductions.co.uk

MSPs to vote on minimum drink pricing bill

Scottish customers might find bottles like these more expensive in the future

by Ray Philp

MSPs will today vote on the final stages of the Alcohol (Scotland) Bill in the Scottish Parliament.  The bill would ensure that Scottish retailers will charge 45p per unit.  Drink promotions and reward schemes would also be prohibited under the bill.

Today’s vote comes after numerous attempts by the SNP to push through legislation through Parliament.  Health advisory groups have put pressure on the Scottish Government to address the issue of binge drinking.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said of the bill: “I believe that minimum drink pricing is a policy whose time has come. There’s strong and growing support for minimum pricing – from experts at home and abroad as well as, increasingly, the general public.

“That’s why I’m calling on MSPs to be bold and do the right thing when the Alcohol (Scotland) Bill comes before parliament for its final vote. We won’t save lives by refusing point blank to be guided by expert opinion, modelling and evidence, or by asking the UK Government to take action instead.”

Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Harry Burns has voiced his support for the bill.

“Scotland has an unenviable reputation when it comes to alcohol. We are, sadly, world-class when it comes to damaging our health through heavy drinking.

“Minimum pricing, as part of a package of wider measures, can help us to redress the balance when it comes to our unhealthy relationship with alcohol.”

Retailers have expressed their opposition to the bill on the grounds that it would be punitive towards pensioners and low income families.  Paul Walsh, chief executive of Diageo, said that “there is no empirical evidence that pricing curbs alcohol abuse.”

Independent wine retailer Andrew Lundy, MD of Vino Wines, called the measures “fair”, adding that:

“I see it as bringing us into a fair market where the low cost selling will be impossible, where sales of strong problem alcoholic drinks will be prohibited. We don’t sell cheap cider, we don’t sell Buckfast. We’re not going to be affected in the same way as supermarkets who sell very cheap, high strength ciders.

“We try to emphasise the quality of our products – we’re not about shucking out cheap ciders. Supermarkets use alcohol as a loss leader to attract customers to the store. They compete using alcohol. That is irresponsible in my view, and to use that as a competition tool is not fair.”

It is widely believed that opposition parties will vote against the Health Secretary’s minimum drink pricing proposals.  Liberal Democrat MSP Ross Finnie said: “The SNP have failed to make the case for minimum pricing. When the Health Secretary brings her proposal back at stage three, we will vote against it.”

The Conservatives also plan to vote against the proposals, saying that the bill would punish responsible drinkers.  Murdo Fraser MSP has proposed a a targeted social responsibility levy, adding that responsible retailers would lose out.

The Shadow Health Secretary said: “With the SNP’s indiscriminate blanket minimum pricing dead in the water, the challenge is for all parties to come together and find real, practical solutions to tackle Scotland’s drink problem. There is no ‘silver bullet’ to cure Scotland’s over-consumption of alcohol and the most pressing need is a change of culture.”

Commonwealth Games running out of goodwill

A worker wheels away mud from the tracks at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium (Image: REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett)

By Ray Philp

A catalogue of PR gaffes and logistical crises continue to affect the reputation of the Commonwealth Games. Organisers in Delhi have completed preparations for the running track only hours before athletes were due to take part in the Games’ first running event.

Concern for the viability of the Games have increased after a series of damning revelations were published including the collapse of a footbridge and an athlete’s village deemed ‘unfit for human habitation’ by the Scotland team.  There are also a myriad of safety concerns prompting many competing teams, including Scotland, to threaten to pull out of the event.

Attendances remain poor on the third day of the Games, and today Chief Organiser Suresh Kalmadi is seeking to assuage concerns: “We sold 50,000 tickets yesterday and have got good response for hockey, tennis, swimming and athletics.”

Significant transport issues have been highlighted by a leaked internal report published by the Indian Express. The report indicates that some bus drivers were demonstrably unfamiliar with routes to Games venues, taking up to 3 hours to travel to venues that would normally take 30 minutes to reach, with some drivers not reaching their destinations at all. Drivers have also threatened to stage walkouts, citing ‘poor catering and depot facilities’.

Commonwealth Games Federation chief Michael Fennell acknowledged the issues: “it has been a big complaint that some drivers are not familiar with the roads and people are spending a lot of time in cars and the athletes complained about difficulty to get to the competition venues.” Kalmadi added that “the last issue [transport] would be addressed tomorrow.”

Robbie Renwick collected Scotland’s first gold medal of the Games in the 200m freestyle yesterday, while shooters Jen McIntosh and Kay Copland settled for bronze after missing out on silver by one point in the 50m 3P Pairs. David Carry had claimed Scotland’s first medal on Tuesday, emerging with bronze in the 400m freestyle.