These commentaries by John Macgill represent his opinions only and not those of any Ettrickburn client.

Medicines shortage – a new prescription for an old problem

Ettrickburn commentary - Labour's plans to radically shake-up the pharma industry (part 2)

Ettrickburn commentary - Labour's plans to radically shake-up the pharma industry (part 1)

Cost of medicines falling

Three Nations Three Practices

Community Pharmacy Eliminating Hepatitis C

Homeless People make Glasgow

Heart Failure – we can get treatment right for everyone

Bundles of Safety

Community Pharmacy’s Leader in Scotland

CPO: On the Road to Achieving Excellence

Pharmacy technicians may become prescribers

Profile: Dr Norman Lannigan OBE

Profile: Jonathan Burton MBE

Profile: Clare Morrison MBE

Deep Dive Pharmacy

Mind the Gap - Diagnostic Skills for Pharamacists

Bundles of Safety

Supporting Excellence - Alison Strath Interview

2018 Pharmacy Forum Agenda Launched

Which Referendum to Choose

Three Perspectives on Pharmacy and Mental Health

Pharmacy and the New GP Contract

Bordering on Problematic

Recognised by the Queen and her community

VACANCY Reporter/Researcher: Health and Care Policy in Scotland

Prescribing in Mental Illness – A Practice Pharmacist’s Perspective

What Matters to You? Communication in Pharmacy

Prescribing in Mental Illness – A Patient’s Perspective

Focusing the Vision: Dr Rose Marie Parr on the new strategy for Scottish pharmacy

All the things that could go wrong - looking ahead to the SNP conference

Ask Once, Get Help Fast? Pharmacy and Mental Health

Automation and Delegation in Pharmacy: Understanding the Moving Parts

Pharmacy First in Forth Valley One Year On

Initiatives Highlight Potential of Community Pharmacy

Trying to concentrate on the day job

Health and the Local Elections – a strange silence

The Pharmacist Will See You Now – The Growth of GP Pharmacy

Montgomery’s Review – Dr Brian Montgomery answers questions on access to new medicines in Scotland

An afternoon with SMC

Pharmacists at SMC

SMC – are drug firms voting with their feet?

Radical Surgery on the Horizon for Scotland’s NHS

The Future’s Bright – in General Practice

Community Pharmacy in a Changing Environment

Disclosing payments to doctors – has Sir Malcolm done the pharma industry a favour?

Health and Care in the First Minister’s Programme for Government

CMO: Scotland’s pharmacists “absolutely ideally placed” to practice Realistic Medicine

Profile: Maree Todd – MSP and Pharmacist

Scottish Parliament Health Committee Work Programme

Scotland’s new NHS – a Summer of Speculation

Scotland’s New Health Committee

Two million voices in Scotland – is integration the big opportunity to listen?

Medicines – levelling the playing field

Key appointment raises the bar for health & social care partnerships

What did our new MSPs do before?

SMC says no then NICE says yes – three times

SNP promises single formulary and a review of Scotland’s NHS

More Generous than the CDF – but less transparent

Comparison of Funds: New Medicines v Cancer Drugs

Bonfire of the Boards? SNP signals NHS Review

A tribute to five retiring MSPs

New Medicines Review - Health Committee sends findings to Government

Medicines New & Old in the Scottish Cancer Strategy

Great Ambitions, Slow Progress – New Models of Care in Scotland

Scottish Minsters Demand Up-Front Medicine Price Negotiation

Opportunity and Disappointment: MSPs Investigate New Medicines Access

Scottish NHS Strategy calls for 'Realistic Medicine'

The Scottish Model of Value for Medicines: Taking Everything into Consideration

When SMC Says No: An Access to Medicines Lottery

Reviewing the Review: Access to New Medicines in Scotland

A day of psephology and kidology

Insulting the Lifesavers

Worthy of Mention – Health and Science in the Honours List

News Silence from North of the Border

A Christmas PPRS Present from Pharma

Friday, October 6, 2017: All the things that could go wrong - looking ahead to the SNP conference

This article is published as The Week in Scotland report by the Public Affairs networking organisation PubAffairs

Shortly after Theresa May had sat down following her speech in Manchester, Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: "Spare a thought for those of us still to deliver our conference speech and now fretting about all the things that could go wrong".

The SNP National Conference begins in Glasgow on Sunday. I am sure Ms Sturgeon will have some cough sweets handy when she addresses delegates on Tuesday afternoon, that the Velcro on the backdrop will have been reinforced with superglue and that viciously witty one liners will have been prepared for so-called 'pranksters'.

I reported on my first SNP conference in 1990 and have been to a fair few since. Until about ten years ago, SNP conferences were informal, friendly and accessible events where things occasionally went wrong and nobody seemed too bothered.

In recent years, as the party's membership, influence, power and bank balance have increased, the SNP National Conference has become a bigger, slicker and more professional affair - with a hike in prices to match. A previous favourite venue, a theatre in Inverness, is now simply too small and the party now meets in part of the vast Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre in Glasgow, a city that used to belong to Labour but whose council is now in SNP hands. The conference programme this year runs to 84 pages, half of them devoted to fringe events that spill out of the conference centre into the neighbouring hotel.

The conference will show a united party because - certainly in terms of the big-ticket items like believing deeply in independence, opposing Brexit, supporting Catalonian democracy and trusting the levers of government to reduce inequality - the SNP is fundamentally united. No current cabinet member will go off-message. Even amongst former ministers returned to the back benches by Ms Sturgeon, dissent will only be voiced privately to friends for as long as they remain in the Scottish Parliament.

It is hard to imagine anything going badly wrong at the SNP National Conference. But that does not mean that everything is going right.

Support for independence has remained static. The SNP lost 21 of its 56 Westminster seats in the summer. Longstanding party members, admiring some of the radicalism now on show from Jeremy Corbyn, wonder when it was that they themselves moved from being radical to mainstream. Many regard the official line on the timing of a second referendum on independence as worryingly vague.

And then there's money.

The front cover of the conference programme is made up of a list of achievements of the SNP in office. Almost all cost money to deliver, and will continue to cost: free prescriptions, paying public sector employees the Living Wage, doubling childcare provision and building 110,000 affordable homes. One word on the cover is bigger than the rest: 'Progress'.

The reality is that the Scottish Government has almost no spare money to play with as the 'block grant' funding from Westminster has been reduced and the tax powers granted to Scotland, have failed to fill the gap.

It wouldn't be a party conference without announcements of new initiatives. But with each commitment to fund something new will come a question: what current Government-funded activity will be cut to pay for it? Progress comes at a price.