FOBTs Review

I’m extremely disappointed to learn the Government may be shelving their review of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) as the Treasury are thinking of how much tax they can receive from gaming machines and therefore do not want any stake reduction.

As vice-chair of the All-party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on FOBTs I’ve heard first-hand accounts from individuals whose lives have been affected by gambling related harm and these machines.  In my constituency of Inverclyde cash inserted in FOBTs was over £11.5m in 2016, with losses amounting to nearly £3m.

The evidence shows that these machines are directly linked to problem gambling with 4 out of 5 FOBT gamblers exhibiting problem gambling behaviour at stakes in excess of £13 a spin compared to 1 in 5 at stakes £2 and under.

I have written to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to seek immediate clarification that the Review of Gaming Machines and Social Responsibility Measures will report back in autumn as the Minister previously outlined.


Tele column – 4th August 2017

We are told we can’t all achieve greatness, not all of us get to walk in space or sing at the Albert Hall. The question is what stops us? Nature or nurture? Opportunity and circumstance? I wasn’t blessed with a great singing voice (or any singing voice for that matter) so achieving success through vocal dexterity was always unlikely. I was reminded of this when I recently went to see Bob Dylan. I am sure when the young Robert first croaked out a song nobody, not even he, thought he would go on to sell over 100 million records. If he had allowed himself to be put off by all the negativity he would never have sung another song. Instead he became a global musical icon and gave pleasure and hope to all of us that never made the school choir. History is littered with such examples, from the Wright brothers to Thomas Edison.

When we set out to build something we can’t be afraid of failure. It’s a down side of our culture that failure often attracts ridicule, which, in turn, discourages others from trying and the first tentative step to achievement is never taken. The twist is that the power then stays with the detractors. As we try to create we shall make mistakes. Winston Churchill once said “perfection is the enemy of progress”.

The naysayers, the boo boys, the purveyors of relentless negativity always revert to the same logic, they claim they are just being realistic. But they have other traits. They only see the obstacles, they manage but they don’t define and they never have a dream of their own.

So, to those people that are trying to invigorate and regenerate Inverclyde. To those who believe we must do better I salute you and promise to do everything I can to help. To the others, as Bob Dylan said “don’t criticise what you can’t understand”. Maybe if this politics thing doesn’t work out I will brush up my application to NASA.


Investment in IRH

The board has underlined its commitment to the Inverclyde Royal Hospital (IRH) with £800,000 investment over the current financial year.

Last year the board carried out a £2.5 million investment in a new boiler at the IRH as well as committing £400,000 on a new chiller unit to regulate temperature in wards in the summer and £430,000 in energy efficiency works.

NHSGGC has consistently stated its commitment to the IRH and they must be commended for backing this support with significant levels of funding over the past five years.

The IRH is an important part of NHSGGC’s work in delivering high quality health care and this long-term commitment will undoubtedly be welcomed by everyone in Inverclyde.

The money is in addition to recent capital investment in the hospital which includes:

  • £1.2 million refurbishment of the Emergency Department (ED) and the main entrance
  • £4.3 million on a new clean room for ophthalmology patients undergoing intra-vitreal therapy, and refurbishment of oncology and haematology areas
  • £6.5 million NHS centre for specialist dementia and mental health support on the IRH site
  • £2.5 million in new IRH main boiler house
  • £500,000 new state-of-the-art tube system for transfer of bloods and samples throughout the hospital
  • £370,000 on a new canopy for Emergency Department and new gym roof
  • £750,000 on new Medical Equipment in 2016/17.