Politician returns to nursing in fight against coronavirus

Emma Harper MSP, who was elected in 2016, previously worked in the NHS.

Politician returns to nursing in fight against coronavirus

SNP MSP Emma Harper is preparing to return to work as a nurse to aid the fight against coronavirus.

The South of Scotland MSP, who was elected in 2016, previously worked in the NHS and has three sisters in the profession.

At the onset of the pandemic, Ms Harper – who is also the deputy convener of the Health and Sport Committee – made the decision to return to her previous profession and is currently awaiting news of where in NHS Dumfries and Galloway she will be deployed and in what capacity.

The MSP said she was eager to return to the profession, having left just days after her election.

She decided to return to practice days before health secretary Jeane Freeman issued a plea for former healthcare staff to consider going back on the front line.

She said: “I was thinking about it, and I have three sisters who are nurses as well and we would always talk about ‘what if?’

“It was just a natural decision for me to decide to come back and help.”

Ms Harper said she hopes to continue serving her constituents while working in the NHS, and she believes gaining experience in the health service herself at this time will help her shape policy on Scotland’s recovery from the pandemic.

She said the committee she is on is already looking into an inquiry on the response of the Scottish Government to Covid-19.

She added: “I’ll be able to use this experience to be able to inform me on whatever work we do, not just in the Health and Sport Committee but at Holyrood in general.”

Meanwhile, Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton has taken up the role of delivery driver for the vulnerable alongside his Holyrood duties.

The Edinburgh Western MSP started volunteering with charity Scran Academy and a local pub just as the lockdown measures took hold.

The MSP helps prepare meals and deliver them to people in the vulnerable “shielded group”.

As well as delivering the meals, Mr Cole-Hamilton and other volunteers also check on the welfare of those they are helping.

He said: “We just check that the person that we’re delivering to is okay and have a bit of a chat.

“Sometimes they’re glad of that because they might not have seen anyone else that day.”

When asked how he thinks the job will impact on his work as an MSP, Mr Cole-Hamilton said it allows him to meet more of the people he represents, with whom he may not have had previous contact.

He added: “It’s not about being seen to be doing good, it’s about actually feeling like you’re giving something back and making somebody’s situation a bit more comfortable.

“It’s made me realise that maybe I haven’t spent a lot of times on these communities in the past, I do a lot of work for them but I haven’t spent a lot of time actually on their doorstep, and that’s going to change for me now.”

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