ONE of the great strengths of the Scottish Parliament was always meant to be the committee system. Parliamentary committees have a number of responsibilities, including holding government ministers to account and scrutinising legislation.

Some have specific responsibilities. For example, the Public Audit Committee, which I chaired for a time, receives reports from the Auditor General of Scotland and is charged with ensuring national public bodies provide ‘value for money’.

All committees have a role in taking evidence from stakeholders, both written and oral sessions, providing a voice for civic Scotland and the public in Parliament. Committees are powerful and they can decide themselves what they will investigate or report on. I currently sit on the Education Committee, and we have recently undertaken reports on instrumental tuition, additional support for learning in schools, and the Government’s controversial national standardised tests, all very topical subjects.

I have written before about the increasing casework my office sees regarding the NHS. Some of that is driven by problems with ‘primary care’ (broadly non-hospital care). For most people, primary care is their first point of contact with the NHS.

Primary care includes GPs, community nurses, midwives and pharmacists, as well as dentists and opticians. GP receptionists and practice managers are also part of the primary care team, as are ‘allied health professionals’ (such as physiotherapists and occupational therapists).

The Parliament’s Health Committee is undertaking a major inquiry looking at the future of primary health care in Scotland and they want to hear from users of the service. If you would like to contribute, please do so at