THIS year has once again been dominated by Brexit which has now progressed, if you can call it progression, from being a shambles to a complete bourach, as the meaningful vote was pulled at the last minute by a Prime Minister who knew she couldn’t win!

While she survived a Conservative Party no-confidence vote in her leadership, she is irredeemably weakened and no one knows what will happen next.

Both my constituents and Scottish voters wanted to stay in the European Union and that is still what I am working for.

Over the past 18 months devolution has come into its own, as Holyrood has forged ahead with legislation on health, social care, childcare and education while, in England, developments in these crucial policy areas have effectively been sidelined by Brexit.

The Scottish Government policy of minimum-unit alcohol pricing, which helps in tackling Scotland’s problematic relationship with alcohol, finally came into force in May after being challenged in the courts for five years. After the baby box initiative of last year, the Best Start Grant, which was launched earlier this month, will support families on low incomes with the costs of having a new baby.

While the baby box was branded a “gimmick” by some in the media, these initiatives help give children a decent start in life and form part of a wider “health in all policies” approach to improving the physical and mental health of our citizens.

While “good health” comes from decent life chances, it is the NHS which catches us when we fall.

Having been founded by its own Act of Parliament, NHS Scotland turned 70 this year, along with NHS England.

As the SNP’s Westminster health spokesperson I was invited to several events but, while the NHS Scotland celebration in the Museum of Scotland was a real party, in England I was asked to speak at a march through London of people fighting to save their NHS from privatisation.

I have continued to campaign for Universal Credit to be paid as separate payments to individuals, rather than to just one bank account per household, to reduce the risk of financial abuse. At this time last year, I brought a Private Member’s Bill to this effect but the Parliamentary process means it has little chance of success, even though it has cross-party support.

However, I have also launched a petition in association with various domestic abuse charities and women’s groups and intend to put forward amendments to the forthcoming Domestic Abuse Bill, which would enshrine the principle of separate payments in law.

The Scottish Government is supportive of the concept and is working with the Department for Work and Pensions to see how it could be done in Scotland. However, it would be far easier to make the change at source, to help women and victims of domestic abuse across the rest of the UK.

Something which gave me mixed emotions was my trip to Palestine in September to continue my work with Medical Aid For Palestinians to provide teaching and training to local clinicians working with breast cancer patients. Our aim is to help improve breast cancer care for women in the West Bank and Gaza who are often denied permits to travel to Jerusalem to access radiotherapy.

I had managed to recruit specialists from all over Scotland to join the project, which was fantastic, but just two days before I was due to travel, I was denied a permit to enter Gaza. This appears to be due to the fact I am an MP, even though I was travelling in a clinical capacity. Although I still travelled to Jerusalem and the West Bank, the whole programme had to be re-arranged. Sadly, I fear this is likely to be the outcome of any future applications, which is both frustrating and upsetting as I have some special friends in Gaza who I may never be able to visit again.

On a happier note, this month I was delighted to receive the award for the Overall People’s Choice MP of the Year at this year’s Patchwork Foundation Awards. The awards commend MPs for the work they do throughout the year, particularly in relation to their work with marginalised communities. The award is the top public accolade as both the nominees and the winner are chosen by the public, and it is lovely to know that your work is recognised by those you represent and help.

As we come to the turn of the year, politics at Westminster have never been more chaotic and the need for Scotland to be in control of its own destiny has never been clearer.