As the constituency MSP for Ayr Hospital, it is one of my top priorities to stay up to date with developments and ensure it is delivering the best possible standards of care. 

Recent discussions surrounding changes to services at Ayr Hospital have raised concerns in our community.

However, I have repeatedly been reassured that there are absolutely no plans to downgrade or close the site.

Rather, NHS Ayrshire and Arran are committed to future-proofing the services offered and are continually working to develop them. This includes the emergency department which is so crucial to our communities. 

While we all yearn to put the COVID-19 pandemic behind us, we must recognise that the path to recovery is ongoing, and our NHS is no exception.

Health services will need to continue to evolve to meet our ever-changing needs. That is why I am pleased to hear NHS Ayrshire and Arran is planning to deliver more care as close to home as possible and will place a greater emphasis on maintaining public health, while also ensuring illnesses are treated effectively. 

One of the significant challenges our NHS faces in the aftermath of the pandemic is recruiting more staff. NHS Ayrshire and Arran is actively addressing this issue.

However, due to current staffing issues, a temporary plan is in place to relocate critical care beds from Ayr Hospital. It is vital to understand that this move will not reduce the overall number of critical care beds in the system but merely reassigns them to a different location until staffing challenges are resolved.

As your MSP, I will continue to monitor all changes and developments at Ayr Hospital closely and will continue to push for the best possible facility for the people of Carrick, Cumnock, and Doon Valley. 

Speaking of health care, I welcome the statement from the Lord Advocate that it would not be in the public interest for people using a pilot Safer Drug Consumption room to face prosecution for possession within the facility. After all, drug use is a health issue, not a criminal one.

In my Ministerial role, and as your MSP, I have met a variety of people who struggle with drugs and those who work to support them. Each visit to a recovery service reminds me that the most marginalised in our society should be met with kindness and compassion. Prosecuting them achieves nothing and only makes matters worse.

I am pleased that Glasgow authorities can now proceed with plans to set up a pilot consumption facility. This is not a silver bullet. But we know from evidence from more than 100 facilities worldwide that Safer Drug Consumption Facilities work. It is now time to see this approach piloted in Scotland.