Me and my midlife crisis … on the psychotherapist’s couch

This week our Writer at Large went to interview the renowned psychotherapist Andrew Jamieson about his latest book exploring how a midlife crisis is actually good for you. Soon, though, he found himself on the couch, discovering more than he bargained for…

OSTENSIBLY, I’m here to interview the renowned psychotherapist Andrew Jamieson about his latest book which sets out a paradigm-shifting take on the infamous midlife crisis.

Not only is the midlife crisis good for you, Jamieson contends, it is actually an essential part of the human story, and the definitive path to making us all better people.

However, the conversation soon takes a turn towards my life, and Jamieson begins analysing me. I mention that his book, Midlife: Humanity’s Secret Weapon, really chimed with me. I saw echoes in my own life.

An hour later and I have learned that I have gone through my own midlife crisis and didn’t even know it. I’m 52 but over recent years I have basically ticked off much of the midlife crisis checklist.

Quit a job unexpectedly? Tick: resigned as a newspaper editor. Health scare? Tick: hospitalised with kidney problems that nearly finished me off. Psychological upset? Tick: diagnosed with PTSD related to a mock execution that happened when I was a reporter in Northern Ireland. Changes in personal circumstances? Tick: purged people who I felt were toxic to be around. Lifestyle change? Tick: I no longer smoke, hardly drink after years of overindulgence and, despite a lifetime of indolence, now regularly exercise.

Changing opinions? Tick: I’m more mellow politically and hopefully more empathetic. Even my cultural tastes have altered. I no longer gorge on dark TV, horror movies, extreme fiction and angry music. I’m now more likely to be found listening to Classic FM or contentedly watching Paddington movies. Have I become a bit boring? Probably. Am I happier? Yes, 100 per cent.

HeraldScotland: Psychotherapist Andrew Jamieson says a midlife crisis is an essential part of the human storyPsychotherapist Andrew Jamieson says a midlife crisis is an essential part of the human story (Image: Newsquest)

Forget the Harley

THE key to understanding Jamieson’s thoughts on midlife crisis is this: it’s not about some 50-year-old buying a Harley-Davidson and running off with the au pair or plumber. It’s about reaching a mature stage in life, and realising – probably subconsciously – that you haven’t been the person you could be: the “best you”.

From there, you start changing in significant, sometimes very hard ways, which bring about enough of an alteration in how you live your life that you become closer to the person you always wanted to be. It’s not magic: you don’t suddenly stop picking your nose or become Jesus. You are still a flawed, imperfect, foolish human – you just learn to be more comfortable in your skin, after taking honest stock of who you are and how you can be better.

First world problems, some would say. Certainly, there is truth in that. If you are hungry or at war, there is no time or energy to work on whatever “new version” of you needs to be created. But we live in the developed world, we are humans made of flesh and blood, and if we can improve ourselves without hurting others, why not?

So, what is a midlife crisis? “The curve of life goes through a series of stable patches, interrupted by a sudden unstable phase when suddenly everything seems out of kilter and wrong,” Jamieson says.

A midlife crisis can take place anywhere between the late 20s and the end of life although old age is the worst time to experience these upheavals, as there are few years left to enjoy the benefits of change.

The peak period, though, is from the late 30s to the early 50s, when perhaps boredom has set in around work or relationships, children have grown up, and there’s a sense of time ticking away. Death looms in the imagination.

Killer whale theory

BASICALLY, a midlife crisis is like a boil on the body. Years of psychological pressures from childhood to the present day just build up and have to pop, otherwise you will be poisoned.

Jamieson notes that “only two species of mammal” experience midlife and “have a post-reproductive life that lasts longer than their reproductive life”: killer whales and humans.

Orcas are led by older, wiser females who have been through every challenge the seas can throw at them and know the best hunting grounds to keep their pod alive. In humans, midlife crisis, Jamieson posits, also creates older, wiser members of the group who provide a “balance between the energy, vigour and competitiveness of those in the first half of life, and the experience, dignity and wisdom of those in the second”.

The power of midlife is most evidenced in tribal societies where age is still venerated, unlike in the West where youth is idolised. In tribal societies, elders who have lived hard lives and come through are “guardians of the ethical approach to life”. A society which simply “follows the young warrior class is doomed”.

In other words, for human society to be its best, it needs both youthful energy and older knowledge.

Midlife provides the bridge. Jamieson’s theories make intuitively good sense – though not for a minute am I claiming to have suddenly become a sage.

I’m just less wild and more comfortable “being me”.

Cuban missle test

JAMIESON notes how in moments of group crisis, it is often older people – who have crucially gone through the rigours of midlife and emerged in better shape than when they went in – who come to the fore offering wise counsel.

The US diplomat Adlai Stevenson, he says, experienced intense distress in midlife, leading to the collapse of his marriage. He was central, though, to providing the patience and calm needed to shepherd a still youthful John F Kennedy through the Cuban missile crisis, averting “armageddon”.

Humans, however, have a strange relationship to both midlife and midlife crisis. Often older people – particularly women – are sidelined, yet we seek the counsel of elders in moments of extremis. Humanity both fears and mocks midlife – just look at movies like American Beauty or Falling Down. However a cursory perusal of world culture shows we have always known just how important it is: Homer’s Odyssey tells the story of a man who goes through intense torment in midlife before becoming older and wiser.

The Divine Comedy begins with Dante writing these lines: “Midway upon the journey of life, I found myself within a dark forest, for the straightforward path had been lost, Oh how hard a thing it is to say.” Dante literally goes to hell, bides a while in purgatory, then discovers paradise. The midlife crisis, Jamieson says, always comes with a “liminal” stage – a period of waiting between dark crisis and positive change, just like purgatory.

Midlife crisis, he says, “is an evolutionary move to produce a cadre of elders” who keep society in balance. Each and everyone one of us will experience midlife crisis. It’s how we deal – or don’t deal – with it that matters.

So, Jamieson notes the life of Mary Ann Evans, the Victorian writer who experienced enormous upheaval and shame in her 30s over an adulterous relationship. She quite literally reinvented herself post-crisis, and is better known today as George Eliot.

The Trump factor

HOWEVER, for every Adlai Stevenson and George Eliot there’s a Trump or Putin. “They just stick,” says Jamieson. They either can’t or won’t change in midlife. The fact so many of these types – nearly all men – display narcissistic traits probably explains the refusal to reevaluate their lives. And tackling “ego” is, as Jamieson says, central to navigating midlife successfully.

Horribly, not dealing with a midlife crisis can potentially have devastating consequences. One of Jamieson’s clients stopped therapy mid-crisis and later killed herself.

Most of our psychological troubles lie, as we know, in childhood. Clearly, the process of birth is intensely traumatic. We might not remember it but as newborns, Jamieson explains, we’re flooded with fear and anxiety hormones. As babies, it is impossible to deal with such trauma. Much of early childhood also remains intensely traumatic.

As infants, we are completely dependent on our parents, especially our mothers whom we bond most closely with. Any sense of abandonment – mum or dad going to work, say – drenches us again in fear and anxiety. This all leaves an indelible “wound”, Jamieson explains.

All of us grow up creating psychological mechanisms to protect us from fears like abandonment. To heal ourselves, we sublimate our fears, hiding from our true feelings – we build up a tough outer shell that is essentially fake. This all makes for a toxic egotistical mix of “narcissism and grandiosity”, says Jamieson. These “defences” are a “great pool of dysfunctionality … projection, denial, regression and deflection”, he adds.

The mask

THAT means “our true self” is pushed down – hidden. In essence, we wear a mask – “a persona” – that helps us get through this cruel world we all live in. But no one can live inside a mask forever. If the mask eventually comes off, says Jamieson, quoting Abraham Lincoln, then we free “the better angels of our nature”.

The Lincoln quote is crucial: Lincoln also went through intense agonies in midlife, seeing himself as a complete failure only to emerge as one of the wisest presidents in American history. Fundamentally, a midlife crisis is about finding a way to become less “ego-orientated” and therefore of more use to society through being our “true selves”.

Jamieson lived through his own midlife crisis. Until his 40s, he was a successful promoter of classical music concerts, then life caught up with him and he “just collapsed completely”. He was tended to by a psychotherapist who had been a patient of Carl Jung, one of the founders of modern psychiatry. When he recovered, Jamieson, now 71, recreated himself: he retrained as a psychotherapist and became the successful practitioner he is today. “I found a second life,” he says. “But there’s always a wound which creates the turmoil of midlife crisis.” Ironically, that wound is, he says, “an enormous potential gift”.

Jamieson’s “wound” lay deep in childhood. His mother adored her father – Jamieson’s grandfather. After Jamieson was born, she returned to her parental home. Jamieson’s father, a naval officer, was at sea. However, within days of Jamieson’s mother returning, her beloved father died.

Her grief gravely disrupted her ability to parent. So, there Jamieson was, a baby who grew into a child, flooded with feelings of fear, anxiety and abandonment. As an adult, his intense workaholic existence was a perfect way to hide from all those issues. Eventually, though, life – the past, childhood – caught up with him and emotionally he was knocked for six.

Conformist hell

SOCIETY, school and work reinforce all these negative aspects of our characters. School and work demand both conformity and a form of ego-driven narcissism to succeed. Teachers and bosses don’t care about your feelings. “To survive, you must be extremely selfish.”

And without conformity, “you’re not going to make progress”, Jamieson says. But these “defences corrupt your true nature” – they suffocate the person you could be.

Counterintuitively, success can often trigger midlife crisis. “People get to the top and then realise they’ve used the wrong ladder,” he explains. “They have lived lives that don’t suit them and they need to reverse. That’s why crisis and opportunity go hand in hand. You’ve got to reconfigure your life without causing too much collateral damage.”

Clearly, though, if handled wrong, midlife crisis can end in divorce and family rupture.

However, if you navigate it right, a midlife crisis, says Jamieson, will leave you without “constant past regrets that hound you, and without fear of the future”. Psychotherapists call this process “individuation”. If a midlife crisis is properly “explored, examined and overcome”, Jamieson adds, “the real self comes out – our anxieties and depression will lift”.

He adds: “The manner in which we conduct our closest relationships will be transformed. Our compassion will deepen as our self-centredness diminishes. Our capacity for humility will be extended. Our concerns about our mortality will diminish.

“Elements of our creativity which have lain dormant for years will be revealed. Our sense of soulfulness and our interest in spirituality will emerge. Such is the power of the kind of self-realisation … which can be the eventual consequence of the midlife crisis.”

The shadow

JAMIESON says you can often spot someone who has come out the other side of a midlife crisis, as the changes in their character are so marked. A little suffering means you are more likely to feel empathy for others.

“That’s what we should all be aiming for,” he says. It’s about looking inward and confronting the darkest aspects of your nature – “the shadow”, as Jamieson calls it. It is not about “killing off” the shadow, but “integrating” it, and coming to terms with the fact it exists.

That means facing our worst flaws, especially ones we deliberately shy away from: rage, sexuality, or weakness. Jamieson says we all know these truths deep within us even if we fear to act on them. It is no coincidence that one of the earliest philosophical maxims came from the elderly Socrates before his death: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

Mummy Merkel

JAMIESON notes the life of Angela Merkel, a woman intensely conflicted between her upbringing in communist East Germany and her personal Christianity. Merkel’s greatest act was opening her country’s doors to one million Syrian refugees – almost as if she was “atoning for the terrible things Germany did in the past”. In Germany, she’s nicknamed Mutti Merkel – Mummy Merkel: the ultimate moniker for a wise, kind, older woman.

Boris Johnson, he suggests, shows all the characteristics of a man going through an unresolved midlife crisis. He has early childhood trauma – his mother had mental health problems and his father was allegedly violent. He grew up intensely narcissistic – the infamous “world king” quote seems to sum that up – plus he has been through marriage break-up and just lost a top job. If Johnson worked on the crisis he is going through, Jamieson suggests, he would be “transformed”.

In some ways, Jamieson contends, the entire human race might be undergoing a midlife crisis. We have had our terrifying infancy – all that scrabbling for survival as hunter-gatherers; our lonely, confused childhood that staggered on until the medieval period; our successful ego-driven adulthood that took us past the Industrial Revolution and into the 20th century; and now, from maybe 1914 onwards, we are in an intense crisis which, if not handled correctly, could destroy us.

Nuclear war and climate change might, metaphorically, be the Harley-Davidson and stupid affair that brings us to our knees.

Humanity, Jamieson suggests, needs to find the “emotional intelligence” which comes from successfully navigating midlife. “If we don’t we’re in trouble.” Midlife, therefore, is “an evolutionary” issue. “To survive, we must make cultural changes towards empathy and compassion.” If humanity has a collective consciousness, then war is simply the lashing out of an angry, stupid adult who never grew up and discovered how to manage conflict.

The carving knife

THE process of resolving a midlife crisis can be deeply traumatic. Some of Jamieson’s clients “fantasise about burying a carving knife in their parents’ chest”. Many negative feelings link back to childhood and that fear of abandonment or the sense that parents are the ones responsible for someone’s “low self-esteem”.

After his own midlife crisis, Jamieson resolved his problems with his mother. One of the key triggers for midlife crisis is our sense of imminent mortality – that come 40 or 50, we’re closer to death. “We’ve just a handful of decades, time is so bloody short,” Jamieson says. Resolving our psychological problems in midlife allows us to better spend “the time that remains to us … and enjoy the fruits of this transformatory experience”.

Carl Jung, who formulated many of the psychological ideas Jamieson follows, also went through a midlife crisis. A successful, highly ambitious young man, he crashed in midlife, breaking friendships and cheating on his wife. Jung emerged from a deep depression to do his greatest work. “He killed his ego,” Jamieson says.

Jung is a perfect example of the “break it to create it” aspect of midlife crisis. Self-sabotage is often a precursor: that’s why the midlife crisis is so linked to that notion of the Harley-Davidson or stupid affair in the popular imagination.

Midlife, he says, is a “thrust towards self-realisation … we exist in order to develop”, adding: “Yet this development can only be achieved through much exacting and painful experience, including the key phase in our middle years that we’ve come to call the midlife crisis.”

Despite the agony, “it always brings happy endings if it’s worked out properly. If you’re prepared to take on the challenge, you’ll be transformed”.

We finish our conversation and Jamieson invites me to meet him again next week, to take our discussions further. I’d be a fool not to accept. Nobody turns their back on synchronicity – and there’s definitely much work still to do.

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Covid boosters should be offered to all says Scots scientist

A Scots scientist has backed calls for Covid boosters to be extended to the general population to protect health and ease pressure on the NHS.

Professor Neil Mabbott, personal chair of immunopathology at Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute, said it “made sense” to extend the vaccination programme as “we get further into the most at risk groups” because Covid could still cause serious illness in the healthy.

He said research had shown 8 out of 10 people would take a vaccine if they were offered it.

Professor Devi Sridher, who was one of Nicola Sturgeon’s most senior advisors during the pandemic, has also previously called for boosters to be offered to the wider population.

The Scottish Government has said it is being guided by the JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation) which currently does not advocate for a general roll-out.

It comes as figures suggest uptake of Covid and flu boosters has stalled among the priority groups.

The latest data show 33% (44,136) of social care workers have been vaccinated, 45% of those aged 50-64, 51% who are clinically vulnerable and 50% of frontline health workers.

Flu vaccines have been delivered to 38.4% of those 50-64 and 48% of health workers.

At one vaccination centre in Glasgow 500 people are said to have turned up for 1053 booked appointments.

“It comes back to that thing of making vaccines accessible,” said Prof Mabbot.


“One or two people I’ve spoken to have said they have experienced difficulty booking appointments.

“There are maybe some aspects [of the vaccination process]that can be improved. 

He added: “We could open it up to the rest of the population.

“Up until now, it’s been the strong driver to give the vaccines to those at most need and that makes sense at the earliest stages but I think, once we get significantly into those groupings I think it does make sense to start to offer it up to those in the younger age groups.”

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon encourages Scots to get their Covid-19 boosters as she gets her jag

He described the uptake as “disappointing” but said some of the lower rates followed trends from early on in the pandemic when vaccines were first made available.

“Hopefully this is being looked into because we need to make sure as many people as possible are vaccinated,” he said.

“There seems to be a few principles behind it.

“One of them is confidence – a lot of people don’t think the vaccines are that effective or have some issues with distrust in scientists.

“There’s a bit of complacency now. We are approaching three years into this and for many young people they don’t consider themselves at risk – and that might be misguided.

“Of course there is still the looming issue of Long Covid. There can be quite a large proportion of people affected even after a very mild illness.”

The latest figures, up to November 20, show that on average there were 606 patients in hospital with Covid-19, an 7.8% decrease from the previous week.

There were 8 new admissions to intensive care units (ICUs) with a laboratory-confirmed test of COVID-19, an increase of 1 from the previous week (13 November 2022)

Of the 1,653,929 people vaccinated against Covid, 91.7% were vaccinated for Flu at the same vaccination appointment.

READ MORE: Nearly half of Scots with Long Covid report ‘no real change’ in symptoms 

Prof Mabbott said vaccination rates were “not disastrous” but said there were were pockets of the population that “we still need to address and engage with”.

He said: “There were certain ethnic groups where there was vaccine hesitancy: Black/Caribbean being a strong driver there.

“Living in a deprived area was also associated with high incidence of vaccine hesitancy.

“There has been a lot of misinformation and it is important not to dismiss that.

“We can expect flu cases and Covid to re-surge as we enter the winter. 

“One of the biggest impacts of Covid and flu potentially is on the health service. It’s still having a big impact.

“Getting on top of all these backlogs and delays…one way we can do that is ensuring as many people as possible are vaccinated.”

Scottish Care, which represents the independent social care sector, say there was a “missed opportunity” to vaccinate care home staff alongside residents which had contributed to lower uptake rates.

Chief Executive, Donald Macaskill said:  “Regretfully in the initial stages of the roll-out, despite clear advice based on the previous year’s high uptake levels, several health boards in their roll-out for care homes did not offer to vaccinate staff at the same time as residents, thereby expecting staff to go to another place to receive the vaccine. 


“Scottish Care regrets that this was a lost opportunity to build on very clear practice that for overworked care and health staff, a successful vaccination programme is based on taking the vaccine to the worker, not the other way around. 

“We are working with boards to ensure that where possible this policy is reversed.”

He added: “We are very aware that there is an urgent need to undertake a national awareness campaign for all who work in health in social care to ensure a greater uptake of the vaccines and will seek to work with partners to continue to convince everyone of the benefits of being vaccinated.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said:“Uptake of booster jabs being offered as part of the winter vaccination programme is encouraging with 1,653,929 administered so far. 

“Those aged 50-64 with no underlying health conditions did not receive scheduled appointments. 

“Instead they received a letter inviting them to book an appointment convenient for them on the NHS Inform website. 

“Appointments for this group became available from 24 October and almost 45% have already had their booster.

“We recognise the important role social care staff play and want to ensure they benefit from the protection offered by vaccination.

“Health Boards are now offering drop-ins for Health and Social Care staff to allow them to get vaccinated at a time and location which suits them.” 

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Michelle Mone: The rise and fall of Scotland’s bra queen

Love or loathe Michelle Mone, she’s always been hard to ignore – the woman herself would credit her business empire to her knack for attracting publicity.

The glare of the public spotlight may not be resting so comfortably on the skin of the bra tycoon though following allegations she and her family used PPE contracts awarded by the British government as the Covid crisis raged to enrich themselves.

The Conservative peer faces a standards investigation in the House of Lords, while her ties to a company tasked with producing hospital gowns for the NHS are being probed by law enforcement and the House of Lords.

It’s just the latest twist in the tale of a self-proclaimed one-woman success story – a story which has had plenty of twists and turns up to this point.

Raised in the East End of Glasgow, Mone first came to prominence in 1999 with the launch of the Ultimo bra, which the entrepreneur said was inspired by her experience of wearing an uncomfortable cleavage-booster and realising she could come up with a better design.

In May of the following year Ultimo launched at the Sak’s Fifth Avenue store in New York City, and it was claimed that Julia Roberts wore one of the bras for her role in Erin Brockovich.

Mone and her company MJM International would go on to launch a range of diet pills, as well as partnering with the likes of ASDA, Debenham’s and doing modelling campaigns with Kelly Brook, Gemma Atkinson and Mel B of the Spice Girls.

HeraldScotland: Michelle Mone, centre, used her first Lords vote to oppose the delay to cut tax credits

Close scrutiny

Almost from the start of Mone’s entrepreneurial career there have been questions surrounding the legitimacy of her much-vaunted achievements.

Her business career started with Canadian beer brand Labatt, with the Scotswoman admitting that she faked details on her CV to land the role. 
Publicity for Ultimo went through the roof thanks to reports that Julia Roberts had worn one of the bras for her Oscar-winning turn in Erin Brockovich, though this has been denied by several of the filmmakers. 

A 2015 profile of Mone in European CEO stated that the actress herself had mentioned the undergarment in her acceptance speech for the Academy Award but if she did then it wasn’t on stage at the ceremony – the footage is freely available on YouTube and features no mention of a bra.

MJM’s ‘Trimsecrets’ diet pills, produced in collaboration with Jan de Vries, were described as having “no scientific basis or rationale” and while the entrepreneur had claimed their efficacy had been proven in clinical trials when questioned by The Guardian, Mone stated that the trial had in fact been a 63-person questionnaire, for which she was unable to produce the results.

Ultimo losses

Questions were also raised over the success of her business empire. Despite claims she was worth £50m, MJM made losses of £780,000 in the 2013 financial year before passing its assets to its parent company, Ultimo Brands, which also made a loss.

A former employee, Scott Kilday, was awarded £15,000 in compensation after discovering a plant pot in his office had been bugged, ostensibly due to fears he was planning to leave and work with Mone’s ex-husband, Michael.

Despite those concerns, Mone began to establish herself as a political player. Setting herself up as a staunch unionist, the businesswoman threatened to leave Scotland if the SNP won the 2007 Holyrood election and was a firm advocate for a No vote in the 2014 independence referendum.

Shortly thereafter she was appointed to an unpaid role as the Conservative government’s ‘start-up czar’, which drew backlash from other entrepreneurs.


Describing Mone as a ‘small-time businesswoman’, Douglas Anderson of Gap Group said: “Her businesses have been no more than excessively over promoted PR minnows gaining unjustified acclaim due to the glamorous sector they happen to be in.

“There is no way, by any measure, that she is qualified to advise anybody on setting up a profitable business, because quite simply, she hasn’t!”.

Mone resigned as a director of MJM in August 2015. It was wound up last year with debts of over £300,000.

Lording it

Mone was given a peerage by Prime Minister David Cameron in 2015, but in the following six years spoke just five times and submitted 22 written questions.

Her appointment was criticised by both opposition and Tory figures at the time, with one branding her “a public relations creation, a personal brand rather than a serious businesswoman”.

Prevailing events tended to back that assessment. Her UTan range, launched through UBeauty Global, was claimed by Mone to have cost £1m to develop but the company’s first set of accounts showed it to be worth less than £25,000. 

She and partner Doug Barrowman launched a cryptocurrency in 2018 hoping to raise $80m, with the baroness describing herself as “one of the biggest experts in Cryptocurrency and Blockchain”. By August, The Sunday Times reported that the project had “flopped” and all investors had been refunded.

HeraldScotland: Michelle Mone and Douglas Barrowman's 2017 Christmas card

Mone was also accused in 2019 of sending a racist WhatsApp message describing a man of Indian heritage as “a waste of a man’s white skin”, which she denies, with a representative responding that the baroness and her husband had “built over 15 schools in Africa”.

The biggest scandal of all, however, would break in October of 2020.

PPE ‘fastlane’

In October of 2020 The Herald revealed that the British government had awarded a £122m contract to supply personal protective equipment (PPE) to a company run by a former associate of Baroness Mone without going out to tender.

The justification given was that the equipment was needed urgently as cases of Covid spiked, with the contract handed out to supply 25 million gowns for health workers. 

It was awarded by the Department of Health and Social Care just a month after the company, Medpro, was founded. 

The gowns were never used.

A spokeswoman for Baroness Mone said that she had no comment as she has no role or involvement in PPE Medpro, which received over £200m in total via government contracts.

The spokeswoman added: “Mr Barrowman (Mone’s husband) is also not involved in the company… and is not a Director or Shareholder.”

It later emerged that Mone had referred the company to the government in March 2020. Leaked emails later suggested she had been promoting Covid tests sold by the company as late as October 2020.

This week leaked documents appeared to show that Mone and her children secretly received £29m from the profits made by Medpro through a secret offshore trust of which they were beneficiaries.

The documents, produced by HSBC, state Barrowman was paid at least £65m by the company and then distributed the funds through a series of offshore accounts, trusts and companies.

The funds landed in Barrowman’s account just before he and Mone’s wedding and honeymoon, while The Sun reported in August 2021 that the bra tycoon’s children had spent more than £3m on property in Glasgow during the pandemic.

Mone’s shared home was raided in April 2022 as part of a National Crime Agency investigation into Medpro, while a separate investigation into standards is taking place in the House of Lords.

For Mone you might say it’s win or bust.

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Scot Gov finds £33m to fund NHS wage rises as cost of living gap soars

A cost of living gap between the rise in Scottish wages and the soaring rate of inflation has doubled in just six months, the Herald on Sunday can reveal.

The development has led to new concerns about the spiralling costs of taxpayer-funded public sector pay rises to plug the gap with inflation running at over 11%.

It has emerged ministers have managed to find £130m-a-year more in taxpayers money to settle the NHS Scotland pay dispute after a “final offer” in June.

The extra cash is over and above the £350m needed to fund the original 5% pay hike summer pay hike offer.

Union sources say that a further £33m was found since a second ‘flat rate’ offer was made and less than two weeks after health secretary Humza Yousaf said that there was no more money to pay NHS staff.

Union sources have said that the improved pay offer averaging 7.5% that has been made to NHS Scotland health workers threatening industrial action will cost the taxpayer some £513m.

In September, it emerged taxpayers were forced to foot a further £200m every year to fund huge local authority staff pay rises and within days the Scottish Government said savings of £500m would have to be made following the pay awards.

The lowest income households are expected to be hit hardest as UK inflation hit a four-decade high at 11.1% two weeks ago.

Pay As You Earn data for September shows that average gross monthly pay in Scotland is at £2,641 per month – a rise of 5.09% in a year – leaving a cost of living gap of 6.01%.

In April, when inflation was at 7% – average monthly wages in Scotland were at £2593 – an annual increase of 3.9%, leaving a far narrower 3.1% gap.

But in September, last year, the gap was at just 0.4%. The typical Scot took home £2497 a month, seeing a 2.8% annual pay rise when inflation was at 3.2%.

The cost of living is currently rising at its fastest rate in almost 40 years, largely due to the war in Ukraine.

Energy and food prices have shot upwards, leaving many people struggling to pay their bills.

HeraldScotland: People who receive benefits and others will receive boosts thanks to the council's Cost of Living 'vouchers'. 
Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire.

The cost of living gap will put further pressure to put up the salaries of the public sector in particular, where spending is controlled by the policies of politicians.

Scotland’s Auditor General has warned that a higher public sector wage bill – brought about by settled wage claims with the likes of train drivers and local authority workers could fuel Scottish Government overspending this year and “could have implications for future budgets”.

The Scottish Trades Union Congress, which has 40 affiliated unions, insisted urgent action must be taken to close the cost of living gap and for pay to keep up with inflation.

STUC general secretary Roz Foyer said: “The inexcusable abandonment from the UK Government on soaring inflation has sent the cost-of-living spiralling. Workers should not be held to ransom for the inaction of Tory politicians.

“The STUC has been abundantly clear: we must raise public sector pay, giving working people throughout the country more money in their pockets to help stimulate their local economy.

“We cannot return to austerity. The energy companies, corporations and pandemic profiteers have made a killing these past years on the backs of their workforce. It’s high time both governments – Scottish and UK – use their powers and tax the wealth, land and property of those with the most in our society. They won’t struggle to survive this winter; it’s those with the least who will.”

Teachers are the latest to escalate strike action saw schools shut on Thursday with further strikes being planned.

The £515m NHS Scotland deal is now being considered by the unions.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Mr Yousaf were involved in “extensive” talks ahead of this latest proposal.

Unite and GMB have both suspended action by ambulance staff and confirmed that the offer will be put to members in a ballot.

Unite’s Scottish Ambulance Service members had planned a work-to-rule on Friday and 1,700 GMB members were scheduled to begin a 26-hour strike on Monday.

HeraldScotland: File photo dated 03/10/14 of staff on a NHS hospital ward. A lack of doctors and nurses in the NHS is forcing bosses to pay high rates for agency staff, new analysis shows. Dr Sarah Clarke, president of the Royal College of Physicians, said there is a

The Roya College of Nursing, which had delayed a formal announcement on strikes while negotiations took place this week, confirmed that its board members would consider the detail of an offer that “still does not meet our members’ expectations”.

It had asked for at least 5% above inflation, which is currently 11.1%.

Public services union Unison, have recommended that its 50,000 members including nurses, midwives, health visitors, healthcare assistants, paramedics, occupation therapists, cleaners and porters accept the offer.

One Unison source said: “We think we squeezed the most we can get out the system. If we want anymore, god knows where you can get from.”

NHS pay increases would range from 11.24% for the bottom of band 2 to 5.56% for the top of salary band 7.

The Scottish government said the new deal was a “record high pay offer” for front line employees, including nurses, paramedics, allied health professionals and healthcare support staff.

On November 13 Mr Yousaf said “we don’t have more money for pay deals” and confirmed both he and his Welsh counterpart had written to UK health secretary Steve Barclay to ask for more funding to help avert strike action this winter.

In September Deputy First Minister John Swinney said the new pay agreements after money was found to end a local authority staff dispute had led to a bill of £700m, which meant “taking money from elsewhere”.

Union sources said the local authority group COSLA increased the pay pot from Scotland’s 250,000 local authority workers from around £400m to £600m at the 11th hour allowing the lowest paid staff to get a pay increase of around 10 to 11% following the intervention of the First Minister.

The increase in funding raised questions about how the pay rise was able to be funded days after Nicola Sturgeon and the Deputy First Minister John Swinney insisted there was “no more money”.

That dispute saw piles of rubbish build up in city centres as waste workers went on strike.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney is due to unveil tax and spending plans for the coming year on December 15.

And the Scottish Labour Party has insisted that the protection of public sector wages must be a priority in the forthcoming budget and has called on the Scottish Government to guarantee no frontline public sector worker will be left facing redundancy.

The UK is facing a collapse in living standards, higher bills, tax hikes and increased unemployment as the economy slumps into recession.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said he is having to make difficult decisions to ensure a “shallower downturn”, but the economy was still expected to shrink 1.4% in 2023.

A majority of households will be worse off as a result of Mr Hunt’s decisions, which will see the cap on energy bills increase and the tax burden rise to its highest sustained level since the Second World War.

The Chancellor blamed Russian president Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine for a “recession made in Russia”, with the spike in energy prices driving up inflation, but he was also being forced to manage the financial turmoil caused by his predecessor Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget in September.

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecast unemployment would rise by 505,000 from 3.5%, to peak at 4.9% in the third quarter of 2024.

Inflation is expected to be 9.1% over the course of this year and 7.4% next year, contributing to a dramatic fall in living standards.

The OBR’s assessment said: “Rising prices erode real wages and reduce living standards by 7% in total over the two financial years to 2023-24 (wiping out the previous eight years’ growth), despite over £100 billion of additional Government support.”

In an effort to get a grip on the public finances, Mr Hunt set out plans for almost £25bn in tax increases and more than £30bn in spending cuts by 2027-28.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Scottish Government is doing everything possible within our limited powers and fixed budget to help address the cost of living crisis. We are unable to raise revenues in-year and have had to find savings from the emergency budget review published this month to support pay and related cost of living pressures.

“However, most of the key policy levers are held by the UK Government, which needs to take urgent action. Despite the UK autumn statement, there was no additional funding for Scottish Government in this financial year.

“We have allocated almost £3 billion in this financial year that will contribute towards mitigating the increased costs crisis, including the provision of services and financial support not available elsewhere in the UK, such as the Scottish Child Payment which is only available in Scotland.”

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Agenda: The gap left by the missing generation

FIFA has announced plans to invest money from its World Cup Legacy Fund into the education of girls and women in India and Nepal – two countries from which many migrants travelled to work on the building of the stadiums in Qatar, sometimes with fatal results.

Helping girls and women into education in India and Nepal is something EMMS International, Scotland’s oldest healthcare charity, has been working on for several years. Girls in developing countries may not see female role models in careers such as health, so EMMS has been helping girls into healthcare courses that can provide them with a path to a secure job. The hope is many will return to their often remote communities to work there.

One of the particular issues for healthcare in Nepal is the “missing generation”. Many of the workers who left their homes and families for Qatar found it was not the promised land they hoped for. Some five million travelled to the country, but more than 6,000 died – most of them from India and Nepal. The road to the World Cup has been dark and treacherous.

For the families of the workers left at home, the loss of their loved ones can also plunge them further into poverty and vulnerability. Frail and elderly people in Nepal now often don’t have the generation below to look after them if they fall ill. It’s estimated that about a fifth of households need palliative care at any one time, but only 1.7% of families have access to it.

To help tackle these problems, EMMS and partners in Nepal have begun a three-year UK Aid-funded programme, Sunita, to develop palliative care in hard-to-reach places. We have also developed a national palliative care strategy and one of the challenges has been to define what palliative care actually means. To many, it means pain relief but EMMS is doing much more than that. We consider the whole family. It’s about making sure everyone is getting what’s needed. Bringing quality care closer to home can also ease the burden of care which can all too often force girls out of school.

So this is really what our project in Nepal is all about. The rural model we’re developing, at five different sites, is based around hospitals. We’re training people to support their communities as health volunteers and to support patients by offering to do some shopping for example, or a bit of cleaning or cooking, or watching the animals while someone goes to the city for medicines. Because families are lacking that middle generation that left to work in places such as Qatar, you have to get the rest of the community to fill the gap.

The project in Nepal is also a continuation of the work EMMS has been doing for more than 180 years. When the organisation first started, we were training missionary doctors who would establish and work in hospitals mostly in China and India. We no longer send doctors overseas, but build health systems from the ground up; it’s more sustainable and provides a hand up, not a hand out. EMMS still has the India connection almost two centuries later but we’ve added Malawi and Nepal too. Times have changed. But the vision remains the same: a world in which all people have access to good quality and dignified healthcare.

Cathy Ratcliff is chair at EMMS International and Scotland’s International Development Alliance.

EMMS International Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is at St Andrew’s and St George’s West Edinburgh on December 8th. For more information, see

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Why we are at a ‘historic moment’ in Alzheimer’s research

IT is well over 100 years since Alois Alzheimer first described what he called an “unusual disease of the cerebral cortex”.

The German pathologist and psychiatrist presented his findings at the 37th Congress of Psychiatrists in 1906 after carrying out a post-mortem on the brain of one of his patients, Auguste Deter, who had been plagued by worsening confusion, memory loss, and hallucinations over a period of five years until her death aged 50.

Her brain, he discovered, was riddled by distinctive protein clumps and nerve tangles never previously identified.

READ MORE: Seven things you might not know about dementia

Today, it is thought that these clumps – beta-amyloid plaques – accumulate to a certain “tipping point” which then triggers a rapid spread of another protein, tau, which block neurons from working properly.

It elicited little scientific interest at the time, however, and Alzheimer would die from complications of cold in 1915 long before the disease which bears his name became – thanks to an ageing population – one of the biggest healthcare challenges of our time.

By 2031, it is projected that there will be 102,000 to 114,000 people living with dementia in Scotland – an increase of 75 per cent compared to 2007 levels. Alzheimer’s, the most common form, affects around 60% of sufferers.

HeraldScotland: Alois AlzheimerAlois Alzheimer (Image: University of Munich)

Until now, the only drugs available for the disease have helped to alleviate symptoms rather than tackling the underlying cause – but that could be about to change.

On Wednesday, scientists from around the world will converge in San Francisco for the CTAD Alzheimer Congress – an annual conference which brings together the latest results from clinical trials. The mood has never been more electric.

“I think this is a historic moment,” said Professor John Hardy, chair of molecular biology of neurological disease at University College London who is spending $7000 (£5,800) of his own lab’s money just to attend.

The cause of the excitement? A new antibody drug, lecanemab, which has been shown for the first time to remove amyloid build ups in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.

This is said to equate to a 27% reduction in decline when given to patients with only mild cognitive impairment, and might be expected to translate into an extra 19 months of independent life on average.

READ MORE: The mystery of falling sperm counts that ‘threatens mankind’

It is a modest gain, but for researchers it marks the first real turning point in the history of the disease.

“Amyloid therapies were first suggested in 1992 so that tells you how long it’s taken to get here,” said Prof Hardy.

“A lot of the earlier amyloid antibodies did not take amyloid out of the brain – they just prevented further build up – and those did not work.

“One swallow doesn’t make a Spring, but I’m excited about this. I think it might be the end of the beginning; I’m optimistic that we are seeing the beginning of Alzheimer’s therapies.”

HeraldScotland: Globally, the burden of dementia is expected to more than double by the middle of this centuryGlobally, the burden of dementia is expected to more than double by the middle of this century (Image: The Lancet/Alzheimer’s Disease International)

Prof Hardy suggested that the breakthrough might eventually lead to a “brave new world” where people are routinely given cholesterol-style blood tests on their 60th birthdays to check their amyloid levels.

Those people whose amyloid is “on the way up” could be given drugs such as lecanemab to slow or prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s, said Prof Hardy.

For now, scientists are just eager to see the full clinical trial data unveiled in San Francisco. So far all we have are press releases from lecanemab’s manufacturer, Tokyo-based pharmaceutical firm Eisai.

It has also yet to be licensed for use. America’s FDA is set to rule on lecanemab in January 2023, with UK and European regulators to follow.

READ MORE: NHS executives warn that current model is ‘no longer working’

Already, however, charities and clinicians are warning that a major shake up of how the NHS diagnoses Alzheimer’s will be imperative to maximise any benefit from the drug, which has to be administered at an early stage.

“Most of the patients who get referred to us at the moment have later symptoms because our health system is set up to keep people with early symptoms out of secondary care and out of the memory clinics,” said Dr Liz Coulthard, an associate professor of dementia neurology based in Bristol.


In addition, fewer than 1% of patients seen by UK dementia clinics have a precise diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, which is crucial to determining eligibility for lecanemab.

Other forms of dementia, such as vascular or Lewy-Body, are not caused by amyloid build ups.

Currently the only way to achieve a definitive diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is by lumbar puncture to extract spinal fluid which can then be analysed for the amyloid biomarker, or through brain PET scans.

Blood biomarker tests for amyloid are “just on the horizon”, said Dr Coutlhard, and would be “really helpful”.

In the short-term, however, she envisions lecanemab operating as a “parallel service” to existing dementia care.

She said: “I don’t think in the short term there is going to be a reduction in the need for post-diagnostic care so we need new personnel and funding.

“Where that’s going to come from in the current climate, I don’t know.

“It very much depends if there a licence [for lecanemab], who the licence is for, and what the MRI guidance is.

“We’re very likely to have to do one or two MRIs, which is more than most patients currently get, and we’re going to need to do biomarker testing which is currently only done in the major centres.”

HeraldScotland: Imaging of amyloid deposition using PET. Amyloid PET can be used in the diagnosis of Alzheimer disease, as it allows the noninvasive detection of amyloid plaquesImaging of amyloid deposition using PET. Amyloid PET can be used in the diagnosis of Alzheimer disease, as it allows the noninvasive detection of amyloid plaques (Image: Journal of Nuclear Medicine)

MRIs are needed to monitor patients for bleeding and swelling on the brain, which can be a side effect of lecanemab but tends to be symptomatic only in around 3% of patients.

More detail is also needed on who is most at risk of these brain changes, said Dr Coulthard – adding that this will be “really important to look out for at CTAD”.

Whatever the obstacles, we are on the brink of a “momentous occasion”, said Dr Susan Kohlhaas – director of research for Alzheimer’s Research UK – because lecanemab “disproves the myth that Alzheimer’s is an inevitable part of ageing”.

She added: “Getting people diagnosed early and into research early will be really important in the coming years. This is a real window of opportunity.”

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Maternity care in Aberdeen from ‘witches’ to women’s rights

AS a starting point for the history of maternity care in the north-east of Scotland, you would struggle to find a stranger or more nightmarish tale than that of Margaret Bane.

The local midwife – or “howdie” – was strangled and burned at the stake for witchcraft and sorcery in Aberdeen in 1597. Her daughter met the same fate just 10 days later.

Among the 16 charges levelled against Bane, five drew on her role as a midwife including accusations that she had “put the labour pains” onto the husband of one of her patients in during childbirth such that he “went mad and died”.

On another occasion she was accused of “terrifying” a local man sent to collect her by speaking for a “long time” to “the Devil in the likeness of a horse” after the animal appeared en route as they journeyed to the home of the woman whose baby she was due to deliver.

READ MORE: Two in 300 mothers in Scotland having a home birth 

The story underlines a long history of female persecution – from conflating midwifery with witchcraft to the more recent struggles for the right to control childbearing – and sets Aberdeen up as an unlikely trailblazer.

‘Bringing Life to Aberdeen’, due to be published by Edinburgh-based Luath Press on November 30, comes at a time when NHS Grampian is constructing the new Baird Family Hospital – named after one of its most famous pioneers, the obstetrician Sir Duguld Baird.

The facility, which will replace the Aberdeen Maternity Hospital, is expected to open in March 2024 and will provide maternity, neonatal, reproductive medicine, breast and gynaecology services under one roof.

HeraldScotland: An artist's impression of the new Baird Family Hospital, due to open in Aberdeen in 2024An artist’s impression of the new Baird Family Hospital, due to open in Aberdeen in 2024 (Image: NHS Grampian)

It marks the culmination of a journey that began with the founding of Lady Drum’s Hospital in the 1630s, at a cost of 3000 Scottish merks (66 pence), to provide care for “poor widows and aged virgins”.

The Aberdeen Dispensary – the first real precursor to a maternity hospital – eventually followed in 1894, with three “lying-in” beds for pregnant women and childbirth.

It admitted just 46 patients in its first year, but demand grew and in 1912 the 36-bed Aberdeen Maternity Hospital was formally established at Castle Hill.

By the time the maternity hospital relocated in 1937, to its current Foresterhill premises, it was delivering over 700 babies a year and dealing with nearly 200 emergency admissions – although home births still remained the norm.

The book is packed with anecdotes including the wartime “Haddo babies”, born at Haddo House – the the ancestral home near Tarves of Lord and Lady Aberdeen – during the Second World War.

The home, which had once accommodated Queen Victoria, was used as an emergency maternity hospital and “tranquil refuge” where expectant mothers from Glasgow, Clydebank and Aberdeen could escape German bombing raids – though some came from London and even Finland.

They would arrive a month before their due dates and stay for a month after the birth. Between 1939 and 1943, more than 800 babies were born in Queen Victoria’s Bedroom – the delivery suite.

In a Scottish good luck custom, the Marquis of Aberdeen (known fondly as Uncle Doddie) “visited each mother after she gave birth and provided each newborn with a shilling (five pence)”.

HeraldScotland: Primrose Ward at Aberdeen Maternity Hospital in Castle Terrace, circa 1930Primrose Ward at Aberdeen Maternity Hospital in Castle Terrace, circa 1930 (Image: NHS Grampian)

There is also the tale of Dr Alexander Gordon, an Aberdeen obstetrician and trained midwife who pulled together statistics tracking outbreaks of puerperal fever in the city. This was a deadly disease for mothers and newborns, and is now known to be caused by exposure to streptococcus bacteria during childbirth.

Gordon’s research, published in 1795 – some 70 years ahead of Lister’s work on antisepsis – argued that the condition was not caused by ‘bad air’ as doctors then believed, but only affected women cared for by a medic or nurse who had previously attended another patient with the disease.

READ MORE: Lister, X-rays and nursing – how Glasgow Royal Infirmary changed medicine

The book notes: “He argued that spread could be prevented by attendants carefully washing their hands and wearing clean clothes after attending patients with the disease. His views were ridiculed by medical and nursing colleagues and his theories received a hostile response both locally and elsewhere.”

More than a century later, Sir Duguld Baird – appointed the regius professor of midwifery in Aberdeen in 1937 – was another physician not afraid to challenge the medical and societal norms of the day.

HeraldScotland: Painting of Sir Duguld Baird Painting of Sir Duguld Baird (Image: NHS Grampian)

Ayrshire-born Sir Duguld, who died in 1986, is described by the authors as “unusually aware of the social factors in obstetrics”.

This drove him to take the “unprecedented step of introducing dieticians, sociologists, psychologists and statisticians to his department”.

He oversaw falling rates of maternal and perinatal mortality during the 1940s and was a staunch supporter of family planning, having previously demonstrated through research in Glasgow that a third of maternal deaths occurred in women who had had six or more children already.

As the book notes, Baird’s determination to “allow women to have a healthier life by reducing the burden of unwanted pregnancy through contraception, sterilisation and abortion were effective in reducing maternal and perinatal deaths in Grampian and this example was followed in the rest of the country.”

Controversially, Aberdeen was the first place in UK to remove all charges for advice and contraception at its family planning clinic in 1967.

Its 30-cot neonatal unit, which opened in 1963, was also among the first in the world – matched only by Toronto – to start ventilating newborn and premature babies.

HeraldScotland: IVF being processed at Aberdeen maternity hospital in 1989 in a laboratory created from a converted officeIVF being processed at Aberdeen maternity hospital in 1989 in a laboratory created from a converted office (Image: NHS Grampian)

In 1917, Professor Matthew Hay – a public health doctor in Aberdeen – was responsible for one of the first known reviews of maternal mortality in the UK when he investigated every death that had occurred in Aberdeen’s maternity units.

It provided a blueprint for the UK’s eventual Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths, which launched in 1952 and continues to this day to monitor deaths of women in pregnancy, childbirth, and the first six weeks after delivery.

“What started off as a local hospital-based audit in Aberdeen was adopted by the whole nation as part of the newly started National Health Service,” states the book.

READ MORE: Tayside had UK’s second highest stillbirth rate in 2020

Aberdeen was also the birthplace of a novel classification system for stillbirths, devised by Sir Duguld in 1941 and still in use.

The city also led the way on research into pre-eclampsia – a potentially life-threatening increase in blood pressure during pregnancy.

Professor Ian MacGillivray – the head of department for obstetrics and gynaecology in Aberdeen created the classification system for the condition that remains the international standard.

The north-east of Scotland was one of the first regions to develop cervical screening, following a trial led in the early 1960s by Dr Betty Macgregor.

HeraldScotland: Dr Betty MacgregorDr Betty Macgregor (Image: NHS Grampian)

In an article published in the British Medical Journal, Macgregor noted that “within five years of the screening service being established, there was a significant decrease in cervical cancer in the Aberdeen area. Such was the success of the programme in Aberdeen that it led to cervical screening services being introduced throughout the UK”.

Aberdeen was also a pioneer in reproductive medicine: it generated the first babies born in Scotland from cryopreserved embryos, and in 1995 the first baby born in Scotland as a result of micro-assisted fertilisation was conceived thanks to Aberdeen’s adoption of intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) – a laboratory technique whereby a single sperm is injected directly into the egg using a microscopic needle.

George Youngson, co-author and emeritus Professor of Paediatric Surgery at Aberdeen University, said he had been inspired to chart the history of neonatal medicine in the north-east following his own brush with death two years ago, but found resources lacking.

He said: “There came a point that when I tried to look into the history of the maternity hospital – because the neonatal unit is in the maternity hospital – and there was no source to go to.”

‘Bringing Life to Aberdeen’ is the first single book to bring together the region’s whole history, from early midwifery to reproductive medicine.

HeraldScotland: Celebrating the 10th birthday of Aberdeen Reproduction Unit in 2009Celebrating the 10th birthday of Aberdeen Reproduction Unit in 2009 (Image: Dr Mark Hamilton)

Prof Youngson said there had been “some seminal figures”, but that he hopes the book will also shine a light on some lesser known heroes.

“There were quite a lot of people, particularly women, who had got no real recognition for their contributions,” said Prof Youngson, citing the example of Fenella Paton who founded and personally bankrolled Aberdeen’s first birth control clinic for married women in 1926 “amidst a storm of controversy”.

He added: “She was a wealthy woman – she didn’t need to have a job, but my goodness she did a job”.

Of Sir Duguld, who helped found Aberdeen’s first neonatal unit, Prof Youngson describes him simply as “a giant”.

“He was a really staunch advocate for the health of women in pregnancy, during delivery and beyond. His instinct would be to look at the world now and condemn the US going retrogressively back on the rights of women.”

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Gary Innes on why Lamlash on Arran holds special memories

Where is it?

Lamlash on Arran. With the village situated around Lamlash Bay looking out towards the Holy Isle, it boasts outstanding views while still offering so much to see and do on the promenade and pier, as well as lots of lovely places to eat and drink.

Why do you go there?

Lamlash was where we would go for our summer holidays when I was a wee boy. My great grandma and grampa lived there in a beautiful house with the most incredible garden and views across to the Holy Isle. It holds so many wonderful memories for me and my brothers and I like to go back as often as I can.

How often do you go?

I usually manage to get over a couple of times a year and feel such a sense of calm as soon as I step off the ferry. There must be something in the air.

What’s your favourite memory?

Long summer days. fish and chips and bread with lashings of butter. Crab fishing down at the pier in Lamlash with my two wee brothers. Those days were filled with so much laughter and nonsense. I always seem to remember the sun splitting the skies and there being a never-ending picnic provided by our mum.

Who do you take?

When I was younger, we would usually go as a family – my mum, dad and two brothers. But recently I visited with my own young family. Our oldest daughter is three and our second daughter was born last year.

We visited a few weeks ago and I had a wee moment that I had always dreamed about since having the girls and that was walking down the very same pier and going crab fishing with my wife and daughters. It was such a special moment and a lovely trip down memory lane.

What do you take?

A wardrobe for all weathers. We have the buckets and spades, the waterproofs, the suncream, the shorts and the wellies. I always bring the crab line too, of course.

What do you leave behind?

Even from visiting a few weeks ago, I leave behind another wonderful and memorable moment – a memory that I carry with me for the rest of the year until we can return.

Sum it up in five words.

Beautiful. Nostalgia. Family. Peaceful. Recalibrating.

What other travel spot is on your wish list?

I’ve been very fortunate to travel and perform in many wonderful places around the world with my job in music.

However, somewhere that is definitely on the bucket list – a place I so nearly got to visit when I was booked to perform but then couldn’t go – is Tokyo in Japan.

So, if anyone knows someone in Japan who fancies a concert, or even a ceilidh in their living room, just holler. The bags are packed.

Gary Innes is organiser of Hoolie in the Hydro – the “world’s biggest ceilidh” – at the Ovo Hydro in Glasgow on December 17. For tickets visit

Yousaf: UK-India trade deal poses ‘real risk’ to NHS

FREE trade negotiations between the UK and India pose a “very real risk to affordable drug prices” and could see access to lifesaving medicines curtailed, Scotland’s Health Secretary has warned.

Humza Yousaf called on UK ministers to provide assurances that “nothing in the proposed Free Trade Agreement [FTA] with India will be allowed to jeopardise access to affordable medicines for NHS patients in Scotland and indeed the rest of the UK”.

In a letter sent to UK Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch on November 15, and seen by the Herald, Mr Yousaf said the Scottish Government “has been clear that the protection of the NHS is a red line and that our public health service must not be threatened by UK Government trade deals”.

READ MORE: No plan for ‘two-tier’ NHS where wealthy pay, says Yousaf 

He added: “I am therefore concerned by the very real risk to affordable drug prices that is posed by the reported provisions of the Intellectual Property chapter contained in the India FTA.

“We recognise that IP protections are an important way to protect healthcare companies’ innovations. However, developments on IP can also impact the rights of individuals and limit access to affordable, lifesaving essential medical products.

“It is essential that the NHS in Scotland, and throughout the UK, continues to be able to access medicines for patients in need, and to do so in a way that is affordable – the UK Government’s proposals, as currently stated, put that core principle at serious risk.”

HeraldScotland: Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf (Image: PA)

It comes after campaigners raised the alarm over leaked documents which suggest that current proposals relating to potential changes to intellectual property laws would enable pharmaceutical firms to ramp up prices for generic drugs.

Around four in five drugs used by the NHS are generics, and a third of these are manufactured in India.

Generic medicines are are identical in terms of dose, safety and strength to more expensive branded versions, but can only go on sale after a set exclusivity period for the original branded product has expired.

READ MORE: Highland ordered to apologise after patient waits over three years for bowel op

This is designed to reward pharmaceutical firms for investing in the research and development of new medicines.

Draft text from UK-India trade negotiations, leaked in October, indicate that the UK is pushing for tighter IP measures that could boost profits for British drug companies but would at the same time require India to introduce more monopolies on medicines.

HeraldScotland: Kemi BadenochKemi Badenoch (Image: PA)

The proposals state, for example, that each party “shall” allow a new use of an existing medicine to be patentable, reversing India’s current patent law which has ensured that old and repurposed drugs are not eligible for renewed monopoly protection.

Critics of the move include the humanitarian NGO, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

Leena Menghaney, MSF’s South Asia head warned that introducing “more and more intellectual property hoops for generic manufacturers in India to jump through will have a chilling effect on the country’s ability to supply millions of people around the world with affordable, lifesaving generic medicines”.

READ MORE: NHS Forth Valley placed in special measures amid concerns over leadership and safety

In a joint letter to Ms Badenoch dated November 2, a number of NGOs including MSF, Global Justice Now, Oxfam and Health Poverty Action also warned of the potential impact for the NHS, stating that “any action that curtails India’s ability to produce quality, cost-effective medicines also threatens the financial sustainability of our health service, and ultimately puts patients’ lives at risk”.

They argued that the current proposals would allow pharmaceutical corporations “to extend their monopolies and keep prices artificially high for years beyond the end of the original 20-year patent term”, adding that the UK’s approach “is only beneficial to one group – the pharmaceutical industry and their shareholders”.

The UK Government said it does not comment on alleged leaks or the details of live negotiations.

A spokesman said: “We will never agree any provisions that would increase the cost of medicines for our National Health Service. The NHS, its services, and the cost of medicines are not on the table.

“Protecting the NHS is a fundamental principle of our trade policy, and our commitment to this will not change during our negotiations with India.

“Chief Negotiators routinely meet with officials from the Scottish Government to engage them on negotiations.” 

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Innovation in health can help people and deliver investment returns

The human body is an amazing machine. Central to this is our genetic code, with genes forming the basic building blocks of life.

Different genes determine the different traits

of an organism, and allow human cells to function and help control how the body grows and operates.

Equally, changes or mutations to these genes, either inherited or otherwise, can be the cause of a great number of diseases. As such, it is helpful for researchers to understand as much as possible as soon as they can.

Imagine a world where you or a loved one can be screened for multiple types of cancer, using genetic traces from a single drop of blood, at an early stage when it is more likely to be cured. This breakthrough technology may not be far away.

In the Liontrust Sustainable Investment team we believe the theme of innovation in healthcare provides an important lens to identify market leading healthcare companies.

We look for companies with unique intellectual property that offer positive outcomes for patients alongside strong returns for investors.

Innovation in gene sequencing expands our understanding of the human genome whilst reducing the cost. Large cap US-listed Illumina,

a first mover in the market and one of our holdings, has driven this. It is a company with strong research and development investment and

a unique portfolio.

International scientific research project the Human Genome Project was able to sequence our genetic code at a total cost of $3 billion in 2003 after a 13-year effort. Thanks to continued innovation, this figure has drastically fallen over time. Illumina recently unveiled new technology designed to reduce the cost of sequencing a genome to $200.

This is a remarkable change, achieved by reading genes in bulk with large batch

systems, requiring samples to be processed in well-resourced, centralised labs.

However, the future will be far more flexible than this.

Another of our holdings, UK-based Oxford Nanopore, has pioneered portable devices that can sequence genes both cost-effectively and without the need for travel. This has amazing promise, with the business forecast to grow in the order of 30 per cent per year.

This not only has a positive impact in terms of speed of sequencing, but also increases access to isolated areas or emerging markets where large scale labs are hard to come by.

For example, Nanopore’s devices have mapped genes underwater, in a remote Ecuadorian rainforest, and even on the International Space Station.

The point of all of this genetic sequencing information, and its relevance to us all, is that it can help diagnose and treat disease.

Looking first to diagnosis, if we know the genetic markers of a disease or pathogen, we

can have more confidence on what the patient faces. It follows that if we can achieve this diagnosis earlier in the disease’s progress,

we can aspire to much better patient outcomes.

Consider the example of liquid biopsy. Here we search for genetic traces of early cancer within the blood, with the aim of spotting the disease much sooner than the conventional paradigm of waiting for the tumour to grow large enough to be seen with a CT scanner. Grail, a company owned by Illumina, is one of our exposures to this nascent industry.

In terms of treatment, therapies are increasingly targeting genetic subsets of individuals within a given disease. The strongest example of this is where the patient is given a corrected version of the gene to cure the disease at source.

Oxford Biomedica and Syncona are examples of holdings that are exposed to this paradigm.

There is a huge growth opportunity within this space benefiting both humanity and investors. Remember that only 0.05% of humans have had any of their genome sequenced. The innovation in healthcare theme across our Liontrust Sustainable Future investment process enables our view that it is early days in the opportunity for humanity, science and the companies that enable this progress.

Laurie Don is an investment manager on the Liontrust Sustainable Investment Team.

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