Scottish Government silent on pandemic handling criticism amid calls for Holyrood inquiry – The Scotsman

Scottish Parliament spending soars as MSPs paid £300,00 more in expenses than previous year – GB news

Nearly 200 Scottish care homes took in mainly untested patients – BBC news

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In the early days of the pandemic more than half of elderly hospital patients discharged to nearly 200 Scottish care homes had not been tested for Covid.

Data obtained by the BBC from Public Health Scotland (PHS) provides the clearest picture yet on which homes took in untested and positive patients.

A lawyer acting for bereaved families at an upcoming inquiry called the data “explosive evidence”.

Aamer Anwar claimed it was proof that people’s lives had been put at risk.

The figures, which were released 11 months after BBC Scotland had asked for them, focus on hospital discharges between March and May 2020 – which was the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The PHS data, released under freedom of information laws, appears in this interactive dashboard and shows every hospital discharge by individual care home in Scotland.

It reveals what proportion of people discharged were untested or positive and what proportion of beds might have been occupied by discharged patients.

Although the data cannot be used to link discharges to outbreaks or deaths in any given home, solicitor Mr Anwar believed it proved that lives had been put at risk.

He is acting on behalf of members of Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice and told BBC Scotland: “The data supports what many bereaved families have always suspected, that elderly patients were discharged without any regard for a duty of care owed to them, or to residents and care home staff.

“Many of the grieving families I represent describe what took place in our care homes as a massacre that could have been avoided, had a simple test taken place prior to discharge.

“The data makes for explosive evidence for a pending Scottish Covid-19 Public Inquiry.”

Covid, ambulance waiting times, energy bills and empty supermarket shelves have created a perfect storm that reveals how badly Scotland is governed – The Scotsman

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It is difficult at the moment not to feel that we are in the very eye of a momentous political and economic version of exactly that.

For 18 months, we had endured the seemingly unending and life-threatening waves of the pandemic, to the point where we seemed almost to have become inured to it.

We are braced – but not prepared – for the national and personal economic impact of the end of furlough, the Universal Credit uplift and business support.

And now we find that our energy bills could rocket, inflation is rising, the impact of Brexit is contributing to empty supermarket shelves, and the Scottish government is putting our travel and hospitality industries at a disadvantage to the rest of the UK.

That list was already challenging enough without the stark realisation over the past few weeks that our NHS, which has got us through this crisis, is now at breaking point.

I know that is a claim which politicians are often accused of making simply to weaponise a public service which is held in such specific and special regard by so many of us.

But sadly, all the evidence tells us that the claim is true. Both for the institution itself and the many courageous and tireless staff at its heart.

It must be tempting for those responsible for the well-being of the NHS to blame its current predicament on all the other elements of the storm. That somehow the crisis which has necessitated calling in the Armed Forces to support our ambulance service is purely the result of the circumstances we find ourselves in. That they can look to the example of our energy industry which is defending itself with evidence of an unusual lack of wind and solar resources and a fire on an interconnector.

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NHS may need to cut all non-urgent care this winter, say unions – The Scotsman

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The health service is in “absolute crisis”, warned Unison, while the Royal College of Nursing said nurses were “crying on a daily basis” and frightened of the winter to come.

It comes as the first soldiers are set to begin driving ambulances this weekend, after a request for help from the Scottish Government.

Several health boards have already cancelled non-urgent surgeries, and in a statement on Friday NHS Grampian said it would be forced to prioritise the most sick children at the Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital over the weekend.

“This is the worst it’s ever been in the NHS,” said Willie Duffy, head of health at Unison.

“People are really struggling. They’re working extra shifts, they’re not getting any holidays, they’re having to stay on shift longer. There are real issues just now.”

Mr Duffy said he would write to the Scottish Government next week about the union’s concerns.

“It might be that we’re going to have to stop a lot of the [routine and elective] work that we do,” he said.

“I know that increases waiting times, but we’re struggling just now in terms of emergency stuff.

“They are going to have to really consider that as an option.”

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Military personnel will deploy to support Scottish Ambulance Service – STV news

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Hundreds of military personnel will be deployed to support the Scottish Ambulance Service.

The UK Government approved the support through the Military Assistance to the Civil Authority (MACA) process.

It comes after a request from the Scotland Office, working with the Scottish Government, to tackle long response times, with the ambulance service under severe pressure due to the pandemic.

Last week at Holyrood, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that consideration was being given to asking for targeted military assistance to help with “short-term pressure points”.

It has now been confirmed that from Saturday, the Ministry of Defence will provide 114 people to augment ambulance drivers.

This will include drivers and support staff, who will provide resilience to the Scottish Ambulance Service by carrying out non-emergency driving work, with each being paired with a clinical professional.

A further 111 personnel will operate Mobile Testing Units, which the military previously supported in 2020.

They will be utilised to help identify infections and break chains of transmission, with their work beginning on Wednesday, September 29.

Brigadier Ben Wrench, commander of Joint Military Command Scotland said: “The Armed Forces in Scotland continue to support the Scottish Government’s response to the pandemic.

“We are working closely with the Scottish Government and Scottish Ambulance Service, following their requests for assistance with drivers and Mobile Testing Units.”

UK defence secretary Ben Wallace praised the lifesaving service being provided by members of the Armed forces.

“Our Armed Forces are once again stepping up, demonstrating their versatility as we support the Covid-19 response across the UK,” he said.

Ambulance crisis caused by more than pandemic, senior surgeon warns – STV news

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A majority of the issues in Scotland’s hospitals and the knock-on effect to the ambulance service are not due to Covid, a top surgeon has said.

Professor Michael Griffin, president of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, warned Scotland has “a real workforce problem in the NHS and in social care” that needs to be addressed and it is causing a “vicious circle” impacting all parts of the health service.

He told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme that increasing numbers of Covid cases and infected patients in hospitals are adding to the “very, very complex problem” facing the health service – including under pressure paramedics.

It comes after the Scottish Government officially requested help from the army to support the ambulance service amid deteriorating response times.

“It’s not just due to Covid,” Prof Griffin said, adding that the pandemic is responsible for “probably 30-40% of the issues that we’re seeing”.

He said: “With the reduction in elective surgery in many of the health boards across Scotland, it’s not just Covid.

“It has a significant contribution, but there are other multiple factors involved and it’s quite a complex situation.

“We have staff absences from illness, recruitment and isolation, such that we’re not able to staff certain areas.

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More than 4400 Covid vaccine doses ‘wasted in one week in Scotland’ – STV news

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More than 4400 doses of coronavirus vaccine were wasted in Scotland in one week, figures have revealed.

Statistics published by the Scottish Government under freedom of information requests showed that in the week ending August 1, a total of 4,448 doses of vaccine were not administered.

Between February and July the number totalled 34,026.

The Scottish Government said there are “several reasons a vaccine may not be administered before being discarded, and therefore ‘wasted’”, including issues with storage, expired doses and “specific clinical situations where there may be some dose loss”.

The figures covered all three of the coronavirus vaccines being given in Scotland – Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna – with the total wasted amounting to 0.51% of the 6,643,551 jabs given.

However the statistics do not include wastage of vaccines in GPs practices, as “GPs do not record this information”.

The figures were released as the Scottish Government continues to urge everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated against Covid-19.

From Monday this will include healthy youngsters aged between 12 and 15, after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the vaccine programme was being expanded following advice from the UK’s chief medical officers.

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