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04/12/13 14:10

Media briefing - Wednesday December 4, 2013

Media briefing by the First Minister’s Official Spokesperson (FMOS).

The FMOS advised journalists that Health Secretary Alex Neil is currently in the USA and had visited Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in Ohio to see the hospital’s pioneering work on patient flows, and to share best practice from NHS Scotland. Further information would be provided of this and other events while Mr Neil was in the USA.

The FMOS said the First Minister had today launched his official charity Christmas card for 2013. The design, by Glasgow Artist Peter Howson, is called Artaban and features the fourth wise man, who arrived in Bethlehem too late to celebrate the birth of Christ. The artwork will be auctioned in the new year and proceeds will be shared between the Children’s Hospice Association Scotland; CLIC Sargent; Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund and Combat Stress, the charity chosen by the artist. Asked whether the design had been specially commissioned for the Christmas card, the FMOS advised that it had. Asked how much the First Minister’s Christmas cards had generated, the FMOS advised that more than £148,000 had been raised for charity through the sale of artworks since the First Minister launched the official charity Christmas card initiative.

The FMOS advised that the MET Office is likely to issue an amber warning later today to advise that high winds are expected across much of Scotland tomorrow morning. Severe winds may affect power supplies and rail and ferry services. Transport Scotland will provide further information to the media if and when an amber warning is declared. The Multi-Agency Response Team (MART) will be operational for the duration of the alerts and this will be the first time the new Traffic Control Centre at South Queensferry will be ‘active’ during a winter amber alert.

The FMOS advised that experts from government, the police, the voluntary sector and business will come together with young people later today for a summit on how to enhance cyber-safety. It is expected a further update will issue after the summit.

Asked to respond to media reports that the Deputy First Minister has suggested there could be another referendum within 15 years in the event of a vote against independence next year, the FMOS said the DFM has often referred to the referendum as a ‘once in a generation’ event. When asked to define what she considers is the span of a generation at an event in Dundee Monday night, the DFM said about 15 years – roughly the time between the two devolution referendums.

Asked when the First Minister would be hosting a Christmas reception for the press, FMOS said the date was still to be confirmed.

Asked to comment on suggestions that Alistair Darling should be removed from his role in the Better Together campaign, the FMOS advised the journalist she had no comment to make.