The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

First Minister's New Year message 2015

Nicola Sturgeon highlights priorities for the coming year

Speaking from the maternity unit at Glasgow’s Southern General Hospital, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “The staff who work here are just some of the tens of thousands across our National Health Service who give up time with their loved ones over Christmas and New Year to care for the rest of us.

“We owe a huge debt of gratitude to all of them and to the many others who work so hard, not just over the festive period, but all year round to provide us with the best possible care.

“The terrible events in Glasgow last week reminded us again of how much we owe our emergency services. Day in, day out, our police, ambulance and fire services go beyond the call of duty to look after us.

“Our thoughts and prayers today remain with the bereaved and all those affected by last week’s tragedy; and our heartfelt thanks go to those who are rallying round to provide them with love and support.

“As we look forward to a new year, it is worth thinking about the babies in this maternity ward - and about the sort of country we want them to grow up in.

“These young children are lucky to have been born into an NHS that is free at the point of need. 

“Your Scottish Government - a government that I am now proud to lead - is determined to protect that principle, and we will work every day to support and improve our public national health service. 

“As the boys and girls here grow up, we also want them to benefit from high quality pre-school care. That’s why in 2015, we will significantly expand childcare for two year olds – and move forward with our even more ambitious plans for the future. 

“And as these babies become young adults, we want to ensure that they have the opportunity to fulfil their potential in whatever career they choose. 

“I am proud that this government restored the principle of free higher education - a principle I benefitted from as a young girl.

“Now I am determined that we will step up our work to close the attainment gap between schools in different parts of Scotland, so that more young people can take advantage of that free education.

“We will also continue to support a record number of modern apprenticeships, to give our young people the skills they need and help our businesses to innovate, export and expand. 

“And we will strive to create opportunities for all. The baby girls in this maternity unit deserve the same chances in life as the baby boys - the chance to succeed in fields like science and engineering, and to become senior managers, board members, even First Ministers.

“The simple fact is that if we can give every child here a fair chance to fulfil their potential, we will build a stronger, happier and more successful country. 

“Doing everything I can to make that a reality is my New Year resolution and it is one my government – in partnership with many across our country - will be focussed on throughout next year.

“Despite the great sadness of recent days, there is no doubt that 2014 has been the most extraordinary year for our country. Our economy has grown and unemployment has fallen. We hosted a hugely successful Ryder Cup, and staged the best ever Commonwealth Games. 

“And we had a referendum recognised around the world as a shining example of democratic engagement. A referendum that - regardless of which way you voted - empowered all of us in this country like never before.

“As the bells chime on Hogmanay, I hope that the spirit of empowerment that so lit up 2014, will guide us into the New Year. Let's resolve not to slip back to business as usual. 

“Instead, let us harness the wonderful enthusiasm and engagement of 2014 and use it to build a fairer and more prosperous Scotland for these babies to grow up in.

“Wherever you are, in Scotland or around the world; at home with family and friends, or at work – let me wish each and every one of you all the very best for a happy, peaceful and prosperous 2015.”

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