Today MSPs debated the proposed draft outcomes for the National Performance Framework.
The National Performance Framework was established in 2007 and is designed to monitor how the country is performing against specific outcomes.
Michelle Ballantyne, South of Scotland MSP, spoke of her own experience dealing with performance frameworks and outcomes through her career in the NHS and in local government. She highlighted the need for them to be measurable and effective for scrutinising year on year performance, but also to be accessible and transparent to allow an understanding by everyone.
Praising the new outcomes Mrs Ballantyne commended the new language and design for the purposes of the wider engagement, however emphasised the lack of effective means of evaluating the country’s progress.
The South of Scotland MSP used her speech to highlight the omission of any emphasis on the importance of breastfeeding on the best start in life and on children’s future chances. The outcome aims that ‘We grow up loved, safe and respected so that we achieve our full potential’ and Mrs Ballantyne stressed that encouraging more women to breastfeed would be an effective way to help towards this end.
Michelle Ballantyne MSP commented:
“A good start in life can benefit people in so many ways and therefore this outcome is perhaps one of the most important.
“Given the known benefits it can bring I was surprised to see there was no indicator regarding breastfeeding. This would be an easily measured, appropriate indicator for quantifying a child’s start in life and in turn their chances to realise their potential.
“Not only does breastfeeding contribute to healthy weight and healthy cognitive development. It can also be very important for forming a positive relationship between mother and baby, which can be vital in determining children’s mental health and attainment outcomes in the future.
“A focus on breastfeeding could benefit children in a number of ways and help to impact on the other outcomes as well, such as education, health and even poverty.”