Since my last article, it has been a busy time in both North Ayrshire and Holyrood.

One of the key issues I have been pushing on locally has been dental services, following reports that four in five practices were no longer accepting new NHS patients. This is unacceptable and a reflection of the complete lack of support that the Scottish Government has given our dentists, especially since the pandemic. Their grand promises have sadly let a lot of people down.

Having hundreds of patients unable to register will not only cause them oral pain and misery, but also cost the NHS more in the long-term.

I am contacting all the dental practices in our area to offer them support, find out if they are currently admitting new NHS patients, and hear from them about what they need in order to alleviate the pressures they are facing. I am committed to ensuring local residents can access dental services in their area so will not relent in pushing the Scottish Government to act.

I also had the opportunity to bring up the important topic of alcohol addiction services in the Scottish Parliament earlier this month. After I spoke about my own experiences with alcohol addiction within my family earlier this year, many of you got in touch to share your own stories, and I was deeply heartened to hear all of your very kind words. Most people reading this will know someone who has experienced the devastating impacts of addiction and the wider consequences for those around them.

Of those who did contact me, there was the overwhelming feeling that local addiction support and recovery services are struggling to cope with the increasingly complex pressures of Scotland’s alcohol and drug problem.

I therefore asked the Scottish Government what they are doing in this area and, whilst there are a lot of positive initiatives ongoing, it’s clear that a lot more needs to be done – after all, drug and alcohol deaths are Scotland’s national shame. Backing the Scottish Conservatives’ Right to Recovery Bill would be a good place to start, as I explained in one of my recent articles.

Many of you have also been in contact regarding very serious concerns around bed capacity in Crosshouse Hospital. I am aware that determined efforts are being made to try and free up beds in the local health board and in Crosshouse, in particular in anticipation for the usually busy winter period. I am aware these issues are having a knock-on effect on other services. I have been contacted by constituents regarding the several month waits experienced by those given urgent referrals for further treatment.

Crosshouse Hospital’s A&E waiting times are also of great concern, with just 68 per cent of patients being seen within four hours, well below the Scottish Government’s target.

We know that if this is not in a good place now then it will grow into more of a crisis over the winter peak. These are all devolved issues that lie firmly at the SNP’s door but we must all work together as constructively as possible to fix them.