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Jan 162018
 January 16, 2018

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has accused the Scottish Government of being in denial over the challenges facing the NHS in Dumfries and Galloway, after the latest Accident and Emergency Waiting times showed that the local NHS failed to hit the Government’s target for the twelve  week in a row.

According to the latest figures published by ISD Scotland today (16 January) NHS Dumfries and Galloway had only 85.3% of patients who arrived at Accident and Emergency seen within the 4 hour target time and 6 patients last week had to wait more than 12 hours before being seen by a doctor. The current Government target is 95%.

This was despite the fact that the local NHS have cancelled a number of operations and out patients clinics in a bid to tackle the current crisis.

Last week Nicola Sturgeon was forced to apologise for the excessive waiting times being faced by thousands of patients left waiting across Scotland.

Commenting on the latest figures  Colin Smyth MSP said:

“Despite the best efforts of staff, once again we are seeing patient care affected by the current crisis in our NHS, as the Scottish Government go on the charm offensive to convince the people of Dumfries and Galloway that everything is fine and there are no problems.

Staff are doing an incredible job in our hospitals but the truth is, with an ever-increasing workload and resources failing to keep up with demand, they can only do so much.

For 12 weeks now we have seen waiting times in this area fall below target. There is only so many excuses the SNP can make before they come to realise that the austerity they have imposed upon the budgets of this area are directly affecting services.

There are only so many times they can blame black ice and the flu before people come to realise they simply cannot be trusted to run the NHS.”

Jan 112018
 January 11, 2018

A CHANCE to learn how to take better care of yourself and get the most out of life is being offered in Dumfries from next Wednesday.

Nithsdale Health Improvement Team are preparing to launch a new free, run of the Mindfulness Course, which is an interactive approach helping to change the way we think about feel about experiences in our life – especially stressful ones.

Nithsdale Public Health Practitioner Tina Gibson is helping to deliver the eight sessions which begin on Wednesday January 17 at 10 am, and she said: “To deliver the course you have to practice mindfulness – meditating twice a day.

“For me, it’s made me calmer, happier and just lighter. It’s helped me to understand that I don’t know what everyone else is thinking, made me less judgemental and helped me to sleep better.”

The sessions help people to gain a better understanding of their thought patterns and feelings, so they become more aware of them but less occupied by them and better able to manage them.

The course aims to assist people in taking better care of themselves and getting the most out of living. And the majority of people who take part in the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MSBR) course report lasting physical and psychological benefits.

These include:

  • An improvement in      concentration levels
  • The ability to      step back and see things more clearly
  • Coping better with      negative thoughts
  • The ability to      relax

To get the most out of the course, participants must be able to commit to attending all eight sessions. And they will be expected to make a commitment to doing daily home practice of approximately 20 minutes during the eight weeks of the course.

The course teaches mindfulness as a life skill, and people will not be expected to discuss personal issues. The course book which comes with a CD is Mindfulness – A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams and Danny Penman. And at times the course will involve doing some gentle movement using floor mats, with participants asked to wear loose fitting, comfortable clothing.

Explaining why they took part, a participant on a past course said: “As a full-time carer I was very stressed, and I thought this could be beneficial to me coping with the day-to-day.”

Offering a verdict, one said: “I’m a lot less stressed and a nurse at my practice could see a big difference in me. She said I was more happy looking and relaxed.”

Another said: “I have been sleeping better. I’m more positive, looking at my surroundings and realising my situation is not all negative.”

The course runs at Georgetown Community Centre, Georgetown Road, Dumfries, on Wednesdays, on January 17, 24, 31, February 7, 21, 28, and March 7 and 14, from 10 am to 12 noon.

To find out more, and apply for a space, contact Tina Gibson on 07736955498 or email [email protected]

Jan 082018
 January 8, 2018

WEEKLY sessions helping to support healthy lifestyle choices are being launched in Upper Nithsdale for the first time.

Free guidance and support will show how even small changes to routine can result in someone feeling fitter and better, and potentially reduce their risks of developing illnesses such as cancer and Type 2 diabetes.

The Health and Wellbeing sessions which officially launch at Sanquhar Health Centre on January 10 are being delivered by Dumfries and Galloway Health and Social Care Partnership.

Nithsdale public health practitioner Tina Gibson said: “We’ve got staff capacity now to start work in Sanquhar Health Centre.

“It’s a free drop-in, with an opportunity to get weighed, but there’s also a topic covered every week like healthy snack ideas, motivation and goal setting.

 “People can come at the beginning to get weighed. They can then stay for the chat if they want to, so there’s a social aspect as well. People have formed their own groups and gone for coffee afterwards.

“And we do sometimes set little challenges during the week, but people are just doing it for themselves – it’s not a competition.

“But it can help you. If you need a knee replacement, they won’t do that unless you’re a certain weight.  And then there’s diabetes, reducing the risk of cancer, the effect on your joints, and being able to live well. People maybe don’t realise that if you do lose weight you can add many healthy years to your life.”

Pointing to one of the health risks associated with being overweight, Tina added:  “It’s about prevention of Type 2 diabetes, because Type 2 diabetes is not a very nice thing to get. It’s a serious disease, and it’s about doing anything you can to do avoid it. If you’re obese, you’re seven times more likely to get Type 2 diabetes.

“It’s mostly avoidable. You can reduce your chances. If you’re a healthy weight you can significantly reduce your chances of developing Type 2 diabetes and reverse it as well.  People can stop taking medications.”

The Health and Wellbeing sessions have already been running successfully in Dumfries, helping people to make small modifications to lifestyle which are hopefully less of a challenge to maintain.

And some sessions feature guest speakers, who explain how small changes to lifestyle can help reduce certain health risks.

Helping to deliver the sessions, community link worker Lindsay Murdoch said: “A lot of people are thinking about their lifestyles after Christmas, as most of us will be. But it’s everything in moderation, and making small, manageable changes. It’s giving people tips and ideas. Some of those might not suit them, but they might be able to take those that work for them and include them in their lifestyle. We wouldn’t expect people to take everything on board and make dramatic changes.

“It’s information about healthy lifestyle choices, with an optional weigh-in, so there is a focus on weight.

“Each week we have a different topic, where usually there’s a handout of some sorts. We have a discussion around that, and questions, and it’s good because there’s good peer support there as well and that helps people’s motivation.

“We also provide a different recipe every week so people get a bit of variety, and while some people don’t cook others share picture of dishes they’ve made on the Facebook page and Twitter.”

Lindsay added: “We encourage people as well to try and increase their physical activity. That’s not necessarily going to the gym – it could be just going an extra walk once a week, or whatever’s manageable for them, because a lot of people who come along have multiple long-term conditions so they’re not able to go and do an hour at the gym or an aerobics class or do yoga.

“So we try to give people a variety of ideas that they could get involved in. It could be hula hooping – something that’s fun, and that they’re going to enjoy. And some people in the Dumfries sessions have made friends, and go along to exercise together.”

The first Health and Wellbeing session takes place at Sanquhar Health Centre at 2 pm on January 10.

For more information about Health and Wellbeing sessions in both Sanquhar and Dumfries visit the Facebook page Nithsdale Health & Wellbeing Team, the Twitter account NithsdaleHIT or contact Lindsay Murdoch by emailing [email protected]


Jan 042018
 January 4, 2018

D&G Standard reportHere’s a chance to listen again to Mark Smith’s special feature with Samaritan’s volunteer, Frank Ritchie, who lost his son to suicide in 2015. This moving interview, interspersed with music poignant to the story, tells of Frank’s experiences before and after the tragedy, as well as how he’s been coping since.

First broadcast on Boxing Day 2017.

Frank has been in the media spotlight over the festive period, highlighting the services offered by the Samaritans, which are valuably utilised at this time of year.

Dec 122017
 December 12, 2017

Artisan coffee is a big thing at the moment – even the national coffee chains are focussing on coffee connoisseurs these days. Local Dumfries town centre coffee shop, Kings Coffee and Books, are using the skills learned from their barista trainer, Dale Harris, to offer coffee barista training courses in the new year. Dale recently became the 2017 World Barista Champion, by winning not only the UK championship, but also the global one held in Seoul, South Korea, last month.

Husband and wife team Mark and Helen Smith, who run Kings for the River of Life Church say, “We’ve been ‘coffee geeks’ from the beginning and we’re proud of it! Dale has been regularly training our staff for the last six years and we owe a lot to him. Releasing our baristas to share those skills with ordinary people in our community will help more people enjoy the creative side of coffee – imagine being able to impress your friends by demonstrating your new skills by crafting the perfect cup of coffee!”

Would-be baristas can sign up for the Coffee Barista Taster Courses in Kings, 12 Queensberry Street, online at, or why not buy a voucher to pop in your favourite coffee geek’s Christmas stocking, for a quirky gift, they wouldn’t expect!

Dec 122017
 December 12, 2017

With Christmas only a couple of weeks away, a major health campaign is encouraging people across Dumfries and Galloway to plan ahead if they depend on repeat prescriptions.

The NHSScotland Be Health-Wise this Winter campaign is highlighting the possibility that some GP surgeries will be closed for up to four days because this year Christmas Day falls on a Monday.


Having enough repeat prescriptions for themselves, or anyone they look after, means people can enjoy the festive break with one less thing to worry about.


John McAnaw, Head of Pharmacy at NHS 24, said it is important for people taking regular medication to make sure they have enough supplies to last them through to the New Year: “There’s always so much to get organised at this time of year, with only a couple of weeks left until Christmas, but it’s important to remember those winter health necessities on your ‘to do’ list.


“It’s a good idea to pick up some over-the-counter remedies for winter ailments such as coughs and colds and if you need regular medications, take a minute to check you have enough left to cover the holiday period. It’s important not to waste medicines, so only order what you need, and pick it up in plenty of time.”


This year, GP surgeries may be closed for up to four days (Saturday 23rd to Tuesday 26th December) but it’s worth checking with your local surgery. NHS 24 is predicting a busy period, with more than 74,000 calls expected to 111. A lot of these calls will be about repeat prescriptions so people can save themselves time and worry by being prepared.


Community Pharmacy Scotland is backing the national campaign.  Harry McQuillan, Chief Executive Officer said “Patients who rely on regular medication should check how much they have left now, and if they are going to run out they need to make sure they order by Tuesday 19th December to be sure of getting it before Christmas. If you do run out of medicines your local community pharmacy can help – take along your empty pack or bottle, or the repeat ordering slip and in most cases they can dispense enough to last until your GP surgery reopens.”


Dec 122017
 December 12, 2017

Christmas is a great time for lots of people, but for some, it’s not so cheery; neighbours have gone away, lunch clubs are taking a break, coffee shops and libraries are closed and public transport is almost non-existent. It feels like everyone is building up for the ‘big day’ where they’ll be enjoying food and fun with their friends and family but for those who have no one to be with, or have no money, there’s nothing to look forward to at all. Well, in Dumfries, there’s hope; once again the River of Life Church by the Railway Station is opening its doors to anyone who would otherwise be spending Christmas alone or in need. It’s completely free and comprises a full Christmas Day Dinner, with all the trimmings. There’ll even be vegetarian options available. There’s no need to book either, with plenty for everyone!

This year, they’re also giving parcels of food and gifts to people who come, to help them through the rest of the festive season and they’ve teamed up with, which lets people know what similar groups are doing around the UK.

This will be the thirteenth annual Christmas Day Dinner staged at the River of Life Church, by Dumfries Railway Station and the eleventh year professional chef, Eddie Vallance, has volunteered his services. He and his wife Tracy will be coordinating a team of excited volunteers all helping in a variety of ways.

Mark Smith, Pastor of the Church says; “Please don’t be miserable on Christmas Day – come along to a very warm welcome, some fantastic food (turkey and everything you’d expect with a great roast), plus some super entertainment.

“Let’s remember the festive season can be rotten for some people – when everyone seems to be having a fantastic time except you. Here at River of Life, we always serve some great festive fayre, but equally important; a loving welcome to all, without judgement and irrespective of faith or non.

“We’re so grateful to ordinary people and business in our region – folk are so generous, making this event possible. Thanks so much Dumfries! There’s a one hour service at 11am on Christmas Day too, so people are very welcome to that as well, or just arrive for the meal at 1pm if they’d rather.”

Anyone who’d like to help out or support the event is very welcome to do so by contacting Mark Smith on 07710 111727

Dec 112017
 December 11, 2017

The Young People’sChoices Fund is celebrating the Year of Young People 2018 in Dumfries and Galloway.

During this December, young people in our region will be able to decide on where funding is spent on projects in our local area!

Between Monday 11th and Monday 18th of December 2017, young people who have a Young Scot card will get to vote on their preferred projects.

Alive Radio is one of the projects you can vote for.
Alive will provide 4 blocks of teaching sessions for young people, facilitated by our experience presenters to upskill young people to become confident presenters and present at events held in the region.

We would love your vote!

To vote for Alive please click here.

Thank you

Dec 032017
 December 3, 2017

Samaritans is launching a national campaign with British Transport Police, Network Rail and the wider rail industry to give travellers the confidence to trust their instincts and act if they notice someone who may be at risk of suicide in or around a station.

By highlighting that suicidal thoughts can be temporary and interrupted with something as simple as a question, the campaign aims to give the public the tools to spot a potentially vulnerable person, start a conversation with them, and let them know support is available, including contacting Samaritans.

Frank Ritchie

Frank Ritchie

Small Talk Saves Lives has been developed after research showed passengers have a key role to play in suicide prevention. * Further research showed the majority are willing to act, but many wanted reassurance they wouldn’t “make things worse”.

The campaign draws on insights from successful interventions made by rail staff who’ve been trained by Samaritans in suicide prevention. For each life lost, six are saved and the hope is to get more people involved.

Local volunteer, Frank Ritchie, is leading the campaign across our region. He lost his own son to suicide in Lockerbie, so for him, it’s a way of bringing a positive legacy from his own loss.

Mark Smith chatted to Frank on Platform 1 at Dumfries Railway Station:

Dec 012017
 December 1, 2017


Royal Bank of Scotland have announce branches in Annan , Langholm , Gretna and Lockerbie have all been ear marked for closure .A total of 62 branches will be shut, with the loss of about 158 jobs.

The union Unite, which represents many of those affected by the closure programme, said senior figures at the bank were “filling their boots while they devastate local communities”.

RBS has said many more customers are accessing services online or via mobile devices.

An RBS spokeswoman said: “More and more of our customers are choosing to do their everyday banking online or on mobile.

“Since 2012 the number of customers using our branches in Scotland has fallen by 44%.

“Only 1% of our customers in Scotland now use a branch regularly while the number of regular mobile users has increased by 39% since 2015.

The spokeswoman added: “We expect these closures to result in around 158 redundancies. We realise this is difficult news for our colleagues and we are doing everything we can to support those affected.

Scottish government business minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “The news of further branch closures from RBS will be hugely concerning to many people in Scotland as it now not only affects, potentially, staff at RBS but also leaves large areas of Scotland, particularly rural areas, with limited branch coverage.”

He added: “Along with my colleagues, I will be engaging with RBS to ensure that everything possible is being done to mitigate the impact of this decision on communities affected.”

Andy Willox, FSB’s Scottish policy convenor, added: “While many small businesses use online banking, that doesn’t mean they don’t handle cash, and therefore need to visit a branch.

“Further, many of the branches under threat are in parts of the country with particularly poor mobile and broadband coverage – a fact to which RBS seems to be paying scant regard.”