February

Question S5W-34872: Economy

Alasdair Allan, Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 29/01/2021

To ask the Scottish Government how many new and enhanced opportunities it will create through the Young Person’s Guarantee, and how it will track young people participating in these opportunities.

Answered by Fiona Hyslop (01/02/2021):

Following the launch of the Young Person’s Guarantee on 5 November 2020 I can confirm that through our additional investment of £60 million in 2020-21 we have provided funding for around 18,000 new and enhanced existing opportunities to support young people in Scotland, building on our substantial existing investment in education, employability and skills. These opportunities will include up to:

  • 11,000 opportunities through local authorities;
  • 5,000 places in college;
  • 1,400 new apprentice pathways; and
  • Support for 1,300 vulnerable 16 and 17 year olds through third sector provision from Inspiring Scotland and the Princes Trust/Barnados/Action for Children consortium which provides support for care experienced young people.

Suppressing COVID-19 and ensuring the safety of our communities and Scotland’s workforce rightly remains our priority but we understand the economic impact this is having particularly on the ability of many employers to recruit.

Despite the ongoing restrictions, we are continuing to work closely with our delivery partners to maximise the number of young people being supported into these opportunities and to enable local partnerships to respond flexibly to meet the needs of young people during this challenging time. This has meant for example more emphasis being placed on providing virtual skills training and mental health support during this time.

We are working with partners to develop a rigorous measurement and evaluation framework to show how the Guarantee is delivering a range of different opportunities to support young people. As part of this process, we published the young person’s labour market dashboard on 28 January. Young person’s local authority labour market dashboard - gov.scot (www.gov.scot). This new, interactive tool has been developed to provide a summary of labour market measures for those aged 16 to 24 by local authority. This dashboard along with the annual Participation Measure produced by Skills Development Scotland will help us to measure and target opportunities and support.

We are working with Skills Development Scotland, HM Revenue & Customs and the Department for Work and Pensions to examine ways we can improve data sharing to enhance reporting of the Participation Measure and better understand what activity young people are engaged in.

The early success of the Young Person’s Guarantee will be maintained next year. Additional investment of £125 million will go towards the Young Person’s Guarantee, the National Transition Training Fund and other initiatives, ensuring the future workforce has the skills needed for a green recovery and supporting those at risk of long term unemployment. This includes personalised employment support and retraining for those who have been made unemployed or are at risk of redundancy due to the pandemic. This is in addition to our already significant investment in Education, Employability and Skills.

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Question S5W-34884: Health and Social Care

Emma Harper, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 02/02/2021     

To ask the Scottish Government, in light of the announcement of a 7.5% uplift for free personal and nursing care allowances for people in care homes this year, whether it will provide an update on when and how these payments will be formally reviewed.

Answered by Jeane Freeman (02/02/2021): 

This year we have been able to increase the allowances paid to those who are self-funders in residential care.

Usually, these payment rates increase in line with inflation. However, emerging evidence shows that the cost of providing personal and nursing care has increased significantly and the payment made to providers by Local Authorities for self-funding residents has not kept pace with this. This year, these rates of allowances have increased well above inflation and bring the payments closer to the actual costs of personal and nursing care for those who are self-funding their residential costs.

Any wider reforms of the way that residential and nursing care is paid for and delivered will be an important part of how we respond to the Independent Review of adult social care.

An additional £10.1 million has been allocated to Local Authorities to cover this rise.

 


 

Question S5W-34899: Economy

Bob Doris, Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 02/02/2021

To ask the Scottish Government how it is supporting people to self-isolate.

Answered by Shirley-Anne Somerville (02/02/2021):

We currently provide a range of support to people through our self-isolation support grant and through the National Assistance Helpline, and the Local Self-Isolation Assistance Service which are delivered through our partners in local government. 

We are extending the eligibility criteria of the self-isolation support grant to anyone who needs to self-isolate, if they earn the Real Living Wage or lower. This will significantly increase the number of people eligible for the grant and help remove any financial barriers to isolating. 

Eligibility will also be extended to any other applicant who is entitled to a council tax reduction because they are on a low income. The Grant will also be available to people with caring responsibilities for someone over 16 who is asked to self-isolate, where the carer themselves meet the other eligibility criteria.

We will also lengthen the period during which people can apply for the grant. They will now be able to apply within 28 days of being told to self-isolate.

These changes will take effect from Tuesday the 16th of February to allow local authorities time to change their systems and application forms but eligibility will be backdated to today. They will therefore benefit people who are self-isolating from now. This means an additional 200,000 people will be eligible for the grant if they are asked to self-isolate.

In addition, I intend to increase awareness of the support available to those self-isolating through a national and local publicity campaign so we reach people and make them aware of the help that is available if they need to isolate.

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Question S5W-34983: Health and Social Care

Emma Harper, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 04/02/2021

To ask the Scottish Government, in light of the increased transmissibility of the emerging COVID-19 variant and the need to progress the vaccination programme, and to protect the most vulnerable people, how it will prioritise the continued delivery of the seasonal flu vaccination programme.

Answered by Jeane Freeman (04/02/2021):

The seasonal flu vaccination programme has been more important than ever this year, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. That is why we expanded the programme to protect the most vulnerable and alleviate pressure on the NHS. We extended eligibility this season to include;

• social care workers who provide direct personal care,
• household members of individuals who are shielding,
• all those aged 60-64 (who are not already eligible), and
• those aged 55-59, dependent on vaccine supply.

All Health Boards worked closely with the Scottish Government and Public Health Scotland, focusing upon improved delivery approaches, whilst dealing with the unprecedented demand for seasonal flu vaccinations. The adoption of a phased approach has allowed those at the greatest clinical risk to be prioritised.

Public Health Scotland published provisional data to the end of Week 51, 2020 (20th December 2020 on influenza vaccine uptake for eligible cohorts in Scotland and estimated that:

• 79.0% for those aged 65 years and over
• 53.8% for those under 65 years old in an at-risk group
• 44.5% in pregnant women (including those with and without risk factors)
• 59.3% in preschool children (aged 2 to under 5 years, not yet in school)
• 75.3% in primary school children
• 39.6% in health & social care staff
• 54.1% in unpaid and young carers

Although it is not possible to directly compare with previous seasons, the data indicate that the overall vaccine uptake for Scotland is higher than last season in most eligible cohorts; notably for those aged 65 years and over the uptake at 79.0% compares with that of 74% in the previous two seasons.

Public Health Scotland publish weekly epidemiological information on seasonal influenza activity in Scotland and on 27 January this indicated that:
Influenza activity is currently at low levels.
• The rate of influenza-like illness (ILI) was at Baseline activity level (0.5 per 100,000).
• The swab positivity of influenza was at Baseline activity level (0.1%, 3/2,400).
• The incidence rate of influenza was at Baseline activity level 0.05 per 100,000 population).
• There were 3 influenza A cases detected: one type H3 and two untyped.

On that basis, emerging clinical evidence indicates that overall levels of seasonal flu circulating in the community are very low, and therefore associated risks are much lower than in previous years. The new Covid variant 'VOC - 202012/01' poses a further risk to public health given the increased transmissibility of this variant.

Given the prevalence of Covid-19 across Scotland, the Covid-19 vaccination programme is now being rolled out by Health Boards at pace. The workforce equipped to deliver these vaccinations will be pivoted, and resources redirected to the planning and delivery the Covid-19 vaccination programme.

As a result, groups in Phase 3 (55-59 years) of the Seasonal Flu Vaccination Programme will not be invited for vaccination. However, it remains important that those eligible, who have yet to book their vaccination appointment come forward so that they can benefit from protection for the remainder of the flu season. Pregnant women and those people who are clinically at risk of flu will continue to be offered flu vaccination.

We will write to all MSPs and Scottish MPs in the coming days to provide them with details on the continuation of the Seasonal Flu Vaccination Programme.

Additionally, the NHS Inform website has a dedicated flu section that will be updated to provide information to those who require it.

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Question S5W-34942: Health and Social Care

Joan McAlpine, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/02/2021     

To ask the Scottish Government what data is available on the impact of COVID-19 on people in Scotland with a learning disability.

Answered by Clare Haughey (04/02/2021):

The Scottish Learning Disabilities Observatory have analysed mortality rates from COVID-19 for the population with learning disabilities compared with a 5% sample of the general population in Scotland. A high level summary of early results has been published today on the Observatory website along with an accessible easy-read summary.

https://www.sldo.ac.uk/our-research/life-expectancy-and-mortality/

A full paper is being drafted for publication in a scientific journal following peer review.

The Scottish Government continues to work closely with SLDO while we consider implications of this research.

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Question S5W-34992: Economy

Gordon MacDonald, Edinburgh Pentlands, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 04/02/2021

To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on its Heat in Buildings Strategy.

Answered by Paul Wheelhouse (05/02/2021)

The Scottish Government has today published its Draft Heat in Buildings Strategy for consultation. The consultation will run until 30 April and can be accessed at https://consult.gov.scot/energy-and-climate-change-directorate/heat-in-buildings-strategy/

This draft Heat in Buildings Strategy updates the 2018 Energy Efficient Scotland Route Map and the 2015 Heat Policy Statement. It expands on the policies and proposals set out in the Buildings chapter of our Climate Change Plan Update, published in December 2020, and sets out the action needed to reduce emissions from our homes and buildings to zero by 2045 and to eliminate poor energy efficiency as a driver of fuel poverty. 

Alongside the draft Heat in Buildings Strategy we are consulting on a New Build Heat Standard, Scottish skills requirements for heat and energy efficiency, and the future development of the Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme.

Kevin Stewart and I have also written to the Conveners of the Local Government and Communities and the Economy, Energy and Fair Work committees. The Government looks forward to engaging with all interested parties on this important issue.

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Question S5W-35008: Health and Social Care

George Adam, Paisley, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 05/02/2021

To ask the Scottish Government what further financial support will be made available to health and social care services in responding to COVID-19 in 2020-21.

Answered by Jeane Freeman (05/02/2021):

Following the allocation of £1.1 billion to support additional COVID-19 costs in 2020-21 that was announced on 29 September 2020, the Scottish Government is providing further funding of £491 million to NHS Boards and Integration Authorities. This takes our total level of support to £1.7 billion, and ensures that our frontline services continue to have the funding that they require throughout this pandemic.

Details of the funding allocation to NHS Boards and Integration Authorities are set out in the following table:

All figures in £ millions Further Covid-19 Funding
Territorial Boards and HSCPs NHS Boards HSCPs Total
NHS Ayrshire and Arran 13.0 16.8 29.9
NHS Borders 2.6 10.6 13.2
NHS Dumfries and Galloway 9.1 5.4 14.5
NHS Fife 10.8 12.6 23.3
NHS Forth Valley (2.2) 13.3 11.1
NHS Grampian 10.3 17.7 27.9
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde 86.3 31.4 117.7
NHS Highland 13.0 18.1 31.1
NHS Lanarkshire (4.8) 28.2 23.4
NHS Lothian 17.7 35.7 53.5
NHS Orkney 6.5 2.4 8.8
NHS Shetland 2.1 2.2 4.3
NHS Tayside (2.1) 5.6 3.6
NHS Western Isles 1.1 1.8 2.9
Total 163.4 201.9 365.4
National Boards NHS Boards Total
NHS National Services Scotland 12.9 12.9
NHS Education for Scotland (0.3) (0.3)
NHS 24 (0.8) (0.8)
Scottish Ambulance Service 0.7 0.7
NHS Golden Jubilee 2.5 2.5
Public Health Scotland (0.1) (0.1)
NHS Health Improvement Scotland 0.0 0.0
The State Hospital 0.0 0.0
Total 14.8 14.8
Health and Social Care Total
Centrally Held Pandemic Stock 111.0
Grand total 178.2 201.9 491.1

 


 

Question S5W-35073: Constitution and External Affairs

Rona Mackay, Strathkelvin and Bearsden, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 08/02/2021

To ask the Scottish Government what the outcome is of its latest review into border health measures, and whether there will be any changes to the regulations.

Answered by Michael Matheson (08/02/2021):

We have reviewed the border health measures closely over the last 28 days and have assessed that there continues to be a requirement for the regulations to remain in place to reduce the risk of imported transmission and safeguard public health in Scotland. The regulations continue to be an important and proportionate part of the Scottish Government response to managing the pandemic.

The role of international travel in bringing in new cases, and the increased risk presented by variants of the virus emerging in other parts of the world, meant we took steps to strengthen regulations in response early in 2021. This included suspending the country exemption process and requiring pre-departure testing of passengers. We intend to introduce additional changes to further enhance our package of border health measures in the course of the next review period of the regulations, including managed isolation of international arrivals.

 


Question S5W-35068: Education, Communities and Justice

Stuart McMillan, Greenock and Inverclyde, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 08/02/2021

To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on the financial support for childminders that it announced on 21 January 2021.

Answered by Maree Todd (09/02/2021):

The Deputy First Minister announced a £1m Childminding Business Sustainability Fund on the 21 January. Since then we have worked closely with stakeholders, including the Scottish Childminding Association and the Unite the Union Childminding Branch, to discuss the targeting of this fund to those most in need.  

Further to those discussions and careful consideration of the challenge of ensuring financial support reaches those most in need as quickly as possible, the Scottish Government is extending the fund to a total of £3,228,750. This additional funding will allow a simpler fund to be established, offering a single rate of grant set at £750 for every childminder in Scotland registered with the Care Inspectorate.  

Further information on the fund is set out on the Scottish Government website, we intend to be able to make the grants available to childminders in the coming weeks. 

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Question S5W-35116: Economy

Alasdair Allan, Na h-Eileanan an lar, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 09/02/2021

To ask the Scottish Government how it is supporting seafood businesses which export to the EU.

Answered by Fergus Ewing (10/02/2021):

Given the UK Government’s failure to provide meaningful funding in the timescales needed by businesses, I announced on 5 February a £7.75m package of funding to support the most impacted parts of the seafood sector through the combined impact of Covid-19 and export disruption caused by Brexit. This support comprises:

• £6.45 million for a Seafood Producers Resilience Fund;
• £1 million to support ports and harbours;
• up to £300,000 available to assist the welfare and emergency support activities of the Fishermen’s Mission.

The Seafood Producers’ Resilience Fund will provide support to shellfish catchers, and table shellfish and trout producing aquaculture businesses. These are the sectors we consider to have been most affected by the combined impact of Covid-19 and EU Exit, on markets and exports. They are also critical parts of the most remote coastal communities which are particularly vulnerable to economic disruption. We anticipate that more than 1000 vessels and around 75 aquaculture businesses will benefit from the fund, which is now open for applications.

Further details are available at https://www.gov.scot/publications/seafood-producers-resilience-fund.

We have chosen to focus funding on producers and catchers of shellfish and trout for the table market after careful consideration. These sectors have the clearest evidence of substantial loss and hardship resulting from cumulative impacts but not least the current and ongoing border disruption. We will continue to monitor and gather evidence in relation to other sectors to determine whether further targeted support is required.

In setting eligibility for this scheme we have learned from our experience of previous schemes to ensure that the fund is as wide reaching as possible within the target segments, and also that funding is directed to genuinely active businesses.

Key changes from previous schemes for catchers that we have made include allowing the best year of the past four to be taken into account in calculating the earnings threshold for catchers (in recognition that 2020 was a very difficult year. Businesses will also have to demonstrate that they have landed a single shellfish into the UK in 2020 to ensure that we are supporting active businesses.

The scheme also includes squid given that market has been particularly hard hit by Covid, and does not automatically exclude wrasse boats (which were initially excluded in the previous catchers scheme) in recognition that many of them also catch shellfish as well; so as long as they meet the shellfish target they will be eligible.

For aquaculture, we have sought to include new businesses, which again were initially excluded in the previous aquaculture scheme, and part time businesses who might not have met the threshold from the previous scheme.

Payments are capped to maximise support available to smaller businesses. The maximum any business can get is £45,600 for vessels, £40,500 for aquaculture businesses. The £45,600 cap applies to businesses which own both vessels and aquaculture undertakings.

The whole sector will benefit from our support to ports and harbours, and fishers and their families can access support from the Fishermen’s Mission regardless of which segment they work in. We are continuing to work with the British Association of Ports, and independent harbours, around how best to offer support to address the loss of landing dues, and other sources of income. In protecting ports and harbours we will ensure that this key part of the fishing infrastructure remains viable, and that the whole sector is able to participate in a sustainable recovery.

I remain dismayed by the UK Government’s approach to this vital sector for Scotland. We expect the UK Government to launch its scheme today, several weeks after funding was first announced. It is very disappointing that the UK Government chose not to work with the Scottish Government on more comprehensive support for the sector to ensure funding reaches all those businesses affected by this and that it has sought to override devolution by spending directly in a devolved area.

Businesses are encouraged to consider the support available to them, whether through the Seafood Producers Resilience Scheme or elsewhere. Any individuals facing hardship should contact the Fishermen’s Mission for support or advice: https://www.fishermensmission.org.uk/find-us/.

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Question S5W-35110: Health and Social Care

David Torrance, Kirkcaldy, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 09/02/2021

To ask the Scottish Government whether there are any plans to further develop the Protect Scotland app.

Answered by Jeane Freeman (10/02/2021):

Close to 2 million people have already downloaded Protect Scotland, and almost 40,000 users have been advised to self-isolate by the app. However, due to the anonymous nature of the app to date those who have only been asked to self-isolate via the app – and have not been identified via the traditional contact tracing process – have not been able to use the app to provide proof for any claim for self-isolation support payments. Following careful consideration from 10 February we will introduce a mechanism for unique self-isolation certificates to be generated. These can be sent to employers or to Local Authorities in support of an application for a Self-Isolation Support Grant.

The process being applied is already live in Northern Ireland, has been ratified by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre and is designed to minimise the risk of fraud.

At the same time, following a previous announcement by Apple, we will make Protect Scotland available on older iPhones. Members will recall the frustration of many users of older iPhones who were unable to use the app. Apple have now made the Exposure Notification System available on these older phones, and from 10 February Protect Scotland will be available for download onto the iPhone 5S and iPhone 6.

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S5W-35173: Education, Communities and Justice

George Adam, Paisley, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/02/2021

To ask the Scottish Government what support has been made available to children from low-income households receiving free school meals over the winter period.

Answered by Aileen Campbell (12/02/2021)

As part of the Winter Plan for Social Protection, Scottish Ministers announced a one-off COVID Winter Hardship Payment of £100 for each child receiving Free School Meals, on the basis of low income, prior to the winter holidays. 

As of 5 February local authorities have reported that payments have been made to 144,128 eligible children and young people, totalling over £14.41 million. Scottish Ministers will meet the cost of these payments in full and have also provided £400,000 of administration funding to councils to support delivery. This payment is in addition to continued Free School Meal provision delivered during the October, Christmas and February holidays, backed by £6.95 million of investment.

Scottish Ministers have also committed £12.898 million to councils to continue the provision of Free School Meals, for children eligible on the basis of low income, during the period of online learning in January and February.

Further funding of £4.29 million has also been made available to continue Free School Meal alternate provision over the Easter 2021 break – ensuring that eligible children and young people continue to be supported.

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Question S5W-35181: Health and Social Care

Rona Mackay, Strathkelvin and Bearsden, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/02/2021   

To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on the Transvaginal Mesh Case Record Review, and whether there is a prospect of introducing credentials for the surgeons undertaking mesh removal surgery.

Answered by Jeane Freeman (12/02/2021):

As I set out on 23 February 2020 (Support for mesh victims - gov.scot (www.gov.scot), we have continued work to establish a Case Record Review for women who have raised concerns about whether their case records accurately reflect the treatment that they have received, specifically in relation to full and partial removal of mesh. This Review will give women an opportunity to set out their concerns and have their records reviewed by clinicians to allow for discussion, explanation and mutual understanding.

I am pleased to be able to announce that the Review Panel has now finalised and I have commissioned Professor Alison Britton to lead the Review as the Moderator. Alison Britton is a Professor of Healthcare and Medical Law at Glasgow Caledonian University and previously conducted the “Investigative Review into the process of establishing, managing and supporting Independent Reviews in Scotland”, published in 2018. I am pleased that Professor Britton has agreed to take on this role.

Professor Britton will be joined by three experienced clinicians and an administrator. The clinicians joining Professor Britton on the Review Panel are:

Professor Anthony Smith,
Professor of Urogynaecology, Manchester Academic Health Sciences Centre,
Consultant Gynaecologist (retired)

Mr Ian Currie,
Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Buckinghamshire Hospitals NHS Trust,
Vice President, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists 2011-2016

Dr Carey Lunan MBE,
GP, NHS Lothian,
Chair of Royal College of GPs, Scotland, 2017-2020

Finally, Mrs Irene Brown, who worked with Professor Britton on the 2018 Review will join the Panel as the administrator.

The Panel members have been chosen based on their individual qualities, expertise, knowledge, authority and standing.

Professor Britton will shortly be inviting women who are eligible for the Review to take part. In the first instance, the Review will be offered to those who attended the meetings in November 2019 with the First Minister and myself. This is to ensure that the Review achieves its purpose. However we will consider whether we can offer more women a review using a similar model in the future.

The Review is entirely voluntary and does not, in any way, replace the processes that are already in place for an individual to raise a complaint or pursue legal action.

The First Minister and I take the commitment we made to women at our meetings very seriously and regret that the COVID-19 pandemic unavoidably delayed this work. I hope that this important work helps those who have concerns about their mesh removal.

Credentialing

In light of concerns that have been raised with me, in person by patients, in the media and also in the Scottish Parliament, I have written to the General Medical Council (GMC) and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) to express my support for the introduction of a GMC approved credential in mesh removal surgery.

As Specialist Centres are established across the UK, credentialing will define the skills required to perform mesh removal surgery, and set out how these skills can be acquired and assessed. By formally recognising the skills of our surgeons, credentialing will provide assurance for patients and the service, will reduce the risk of harm and will help improve public confidence.


Question S5W-35319: Transport Scotland

George Adam, Paisley, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 18/02/2021

To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on the COVID-19 legislation in place.

Answered by Michael Matheson (19/02/2021):

Amending Regulations were made to the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 today. These Regulations provide that driving lessons and tests may be provided for, or undertaken by certain limited categories of workers in a Level 4 area. Those workers are the police and fire services and employees of bus companies where the company has delegated authority from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency to provide employee driving tests.

The Regulations have been published at https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ssi/2021/86/contents/made

 


 

Question S5W-35326: Health and Social Care

Ruth Maguire, Cunninghame South, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 18/02/2021

To ask the Scottish Government what progress has been made by the Residential Rehabilitation Working Group on drug and alcohol residential treatment services.

Answered by Angela Constance (19/02/2021):

In June 2020, the then Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing asked Dr David McCartney to chair a Working Group tasked with reporting on and making recommendations to the Scottish Government towards the strengthening of referral pathways, capacity planning and developing models of good practice for funding and delivery for drug and alcohol residential rehabilitation treatment.

The group reported to Ministers in December 2020 making a number recommendations. The Scottish Government published its response today, accepting all recommendations where it is within Minister’s remit to do so. This can be found on the Scottish Government website at http://www.gov.scot/Publications/Recent.

Progress has already been made in some areas. A good practice guide on pathways into and out of residential rehabilitation is already being developed; we continue to see referrals through our prison to residential rehabilitation pathway, and the Scottish Recovery Consortium, through Scottish Government funding, is running a pilot to help people most at risk following near fatal overdose to access residential rehabilitation treatment services.

The report raises a number of questions on which we need to do more. The Scottish Government will be guided every step of the way by the experience of people whose lives have been touched by drug use and the front line services who support people. Dr McCartney will lead a newly convened Residential Rehabilitation Working Group which will be focused on advising Scottish Government on taking forward all the actions set out in the recommendations and their implementation.

The First Minister, in her statement to Scottish Parliament in January, announced significant additional investment of £250 million over the five years of the next parliament as part of our national mission to tackle drugs deaths; and a £5 million support package to ensure immediate action before the end of this financial year. £100 million of this will support further investment in - and expansion of - residential rehabilitation and associated aftercare, with a further two £1 million grant funds to support grassroots and third sector organisations. £3 million of this package has already been allocated to Alcohol and Drug Partnerships.

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Question S5W-35364: Health and Social Care

Emma Harper, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/02/2021

To ask the Scottish Government what plans it has to continue to add new conditions to the shielding list as new evidence arises.

Answered by Jeane Freeman (22/02/2021):

At the outset of the pandemic, the four Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) published a list of six groups where people would be considered to be at the highest clinical risk from COVID-19.

The initial approach was based on best evidence at the time. We are committed to following the evidence and we have refined the shielding criteria as new evidence emerges.

For this reason the 4 UK CMOs and based on evidence from the British Liver Trust and from researchers at Oxford University https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168827820336679 agreed to include to the shielding list patients with liver cirrhosis (Child-Pugh class B and C).

Letters will be issued as soon as possible to those people affected to inform them that they will be added to the shielding list and to explain what it means for them.

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Question S5W-35368: Health and Social Care

Fulton MacGregor, Coatbridge and Chryston, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/02/2021

To ask the Scottish Government what it is doing to raise awareness of the importance of infant mental health and what parents and carers can do to support the mental health of their babies and young children.

Answered by Clare Haughey (22/02/2021):

We are launching a campaign on 23 February 2021 to promote awareness of infant mental health and encourage parents and carers to learn more about the ways that their interactions with their child can support babies and infants’ brain development. The campaign which will link to resources and information for parents and carers on the Parent Club website’s Wellbeing for Wee Ones hub. The hub contains explanations of the science behind the campaign which have been developed in conjunction with experts across Scotland.

This web content also provides new ideas and tips on simple things parents can do to help baby’s brains grow and give parents greater confidence to further support their child. As well as raising awareness of the emotional wellbeing of babies and infants, the aim of the campaign is to reassure families that they really are doing more than they think by communicating and being responsive to the cues of the infant.

This campaign sits alongside the work of the Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Programme Board which are overseeing the expansion of mental health service provision for women, infants and families. This includes an investment to establish Infant Mental Health services across Scotland which is moving into its third year of development and supports infants and their families where specialist support is needed.

The infant mental health campaign will launch in the morning of the 23rd of February online and across social media. Once the campaign is launched, parents and carers can explore more at ParentClub.Scot/Wellbeing.

 


 

Question S5W-35481: Transport Scotland

Kenneth Gibson, Cunninghame North, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 23/02/2021

To ask the Scottish Government what progress is being made to return Glasgow Prestwick Airport to the private sector.

Answered by Michael Matheson (23/02/2021):

Since the Scottish Government bought Glasgow Prestwick Airport (GPA) in 2013, we have been clear that it is our intention to return the business to the private sector when the time is right. In November 2020 a notice was placed in the Official Journal of the European Union inviting expressions of interest. That attracted credible interests and since then GPA and its professional advisers have carried out a detailed evaluation of the competing bids. I am pleased to report that significant progress has been made and I have agreed the selection of a Preferred Bidder. This allows the process to move to the next stage and potentially an early divestment of our shareholding.

To protect the integrity of the process, we will not reveal the identity of the Preferred Bidder at this stage. I will keep Parliament advised of progress.

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Question S5W-35500: Health and Social Care

George Adam, Paisley, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 24/02/2021     

To ask the Scottish Government when care home residents will be able to see close friends and family.

Answered by Jeane Freeman (24/02/2021):

We understand the distress that this pandemic has caused for people living in care homes and their loved ones. Care home staff have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to support continued contact between residents and their loved ones but these restrictions have been hugely challenging for residents, as well as for care home staff and colleagues.

With a wide range of protections now in place that must be maintained and rigorously sustained, we can now mitigate the risk to enable safe, indoor visiting from early March so that everyone living in adult care homes, no matter their age, health, or otherwise, can have meaningful contact with their families and loves ones.

The most recent of these protections is the COVID vaccine with more than 99.9% of older care home residents and 95% of staff in those homes now vaccinated with first dose. Vaccination sits alongside other protections including infection prevention and control measures; testing policy prior to hospital discharge; testing policy for community admission; PPE (adequate, available and proper used) testing (all staff, others, designated visitors). Additionally, the national picture of coronavirus outbreaks in care homes is improving. NRS data shows that deaths from coronavirus in care homes have fallen by 62% in the last three weeks. These protections combined with an improving picture means that we are now able to support meaningful indoor visiting.

Today I have published updated care home visiting guidance ‘Open with Care’ to support the return of indoor visiting and ensure that there is meaningful contact between care home residents and their loved ones. The revised guidance recommends that all care homes should support residents to have up to two designated visitors each with one visit a week for each visitor from early March. There will be some care homes that need to put in additional work to satisfy themselves they meet all the safety measures - in these cases direct support will be provided by national and local partners.

Care homes can access support from local oversight teams who have provided ongoing advice and support throughout the pandemic. The Scottish Government is providing funding for reasonable additional costs incurred as a result of the pandemic, including staffing and non-staffing costs associated with facilitating safe visiting in care homes. This is in line with the financial support for social care providers guidance, published in December 2020.

Scottish Government also provides funding and support for the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) (extended to June 2021 and under ongoing review) as well as care home testing.

The guidance has been developed by the Chief Nursing Officer and Chief Medical Officer’s Clinical and Professional Advisory group for Social Care in consultation with relatives of care home residents, care home providers, Scottish Care, Directors of Public Health, Health and Social Care Partnerships and a range of other partners.

Everyone, including visitors, has a responsibility to ensure that visits take place as safely as possible by continuing to follow safety advice. While visiting may sometimes still be restricted, for example in the event of an outbreak at a care home, the expectation will now be that homes will facilitate regular weekly contact as long as certain safety conditions are met. We will then work to continue to gradually increase the frequency and duration of contact. Essential visits in cases where there is distress, urgency or a need to prevent decline should continue to be supported by all care homes compassionately and generously under this guidance.

This is a welcome step forward for residents and their loved ones as well as for care home staff.

The Scottish Government will continue working with care home providers, partners and relatives to support implementation of the guidance. National and local monitoring will take place from the point the guidance is published and support will be in place for providers to help them open with care.

The updated guidance can be found here:
https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-adult-care-homes-visiting-guidance/

We also appreciate that for almost everyone, reconnecting will be an emotional time. Dedicated advice for care home residents, their friends and relatives will be available on www.nhsinform.scot/openwithcare from today. This summarises the new guidance and the safeguards in place to have meaningful contact as safely as possible.

 


 

Question S5W-35512: Education, Communities and Justice

Bill Kidd, Glasgow Anniesland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 24/02/2021

To ask the Scottish Government, following the recently announced publication of the revised Strategic Framework, whether it will provide an update on the steps being taken to support further and higher education and to support students.

Answered by Richard Lochhead (24/02/2021):

Our colleges and universities are national assets, providing our students with opportunities for personal development and making a critical contribution to Scotland’s economic success. They are essential in developing the talent, research and innovation to drive our economic recovery.

The revised Strategic Framework, published on 23 February, sets out our initial priorities, and an indicative timeframe, for cautiously easing and reviewing restrictions and restoring greater normality to our lives, just as quickly as it is safe and sustainable to do so.

Education is our priority and although we are operating within these continued restrictions we informed colleges and universities on the 23 February that they are able to bring back more students, up to a limit of 5% in person learning at any one time, whose learning is critical and time-sensitive to them progressing or graduating which cannot be delivered remotely or postponed. Importantly, those students on work placements, which are essential for our future workforce needs, in areas such as health and child care, are able to undertake these placements. We are continually reviewing the data to assess when we can consider easing these restrictions even further.

We realise these continued constraints remain very challenging. However, they are currently necessary to help reduce the impact of Covid. I have said in Parliament several times that I am grateful to both staff, students and our institutions for all their efforts and I would like to again convey my gratitude and appreciation.

I wish to assure all our students who may be concerned about the implications for their education that we are urgently working in partnership with colleges, universities, and staff and student representatives to investigate all practical solutions available to help and support as many of them as possible complete their courses.

We will endeavour to support any student who may not be able to complete their course to the original timescale and we will consider what further financial assistance may be required for both learners and their institutions.

We are also continuing to work with the sectors on the issues students are facing including as part of the Student Hardship Task force, which will assess the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on student hardship and determine if the mechanisms and measures currently in place are sufficient. We have already committed additional £17 million this year to help alleviate the financial burden and stress facing our students, which alongside the additional £5 million for student hardship announced in December is now being issued to the sector. For Further Education students, the Scottish Government has committed an additional £3 million and this is being supplemented with a further £5 million from SFC budgets.

I am also very aware of the mental health and well-being challenges faced by students at this time. We have already invested £3.645 million to support our existing commitment to introduce more than 80 additional counsellors in colleges and universities and have also provided additional funding of £1.32 million for this financial year to help students deal with the mental health impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

I can now announce a further £4.4 million of support specifically for our college students and staff as they deal with and respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. This builds on our Programme for Government investment of £1.9 million to support the sector recruit and access additional counsellors and our investment of £1.1 million to support colleges to deal with impact of Covid-19 and college student associations to provide vital wellbeing services to students.

As plans for the phased return of students develop, I urge all students to keep up to date with current advice by visiting the Student Information Scotland website at https://www.studentinformation.gov.scot/. Students who are part of the phased return and who will be changing households as a consequence, will now be able to book a test prior to making that change.

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Question S5W-35514: Health and Social Care

David Torrance, Kirkcaldy, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 24/02/2021

To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking following the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency's (MHRA) review of the use of UK plasma for fractionation. 

Answered by Mairi Gougeon (25/02/2021):

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has advised Ministers that, following its detailed review in 2020, the Commission on Human Medicines has recommended that UK plasma can be used for production of immunoglobulin medicines as they are satisfied that the risk of transmission of variant CJD (vCJD) via immunoglobulins manufactured from UK plasma is now negligible. The MHRA is now the sole regulator for medicines and the agency responsible for the licensing of medicinal products in the UK.

For this reason, Ministers across the UK have agreed to lift the current ban on using UK plasma for fractionation, which was introduced in 1998 as a vCJD risk mitigation measure. All other existing vCJD risk mitigation measures will remain in place.

This means plasma from donations given in the UK will now be able to be used to produce medicinal immunoglobulin products to treat patients in Scotland and the rest of the UK. This should improve the security of supplies of these medicines in future.

The Scottish Government will now work closely with the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service to review options for the collection and use of plasma from donors in Scotland in future.

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Question S5W-35528: Health and Social Care

Emma Harper, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 24/02/2021

To ask the Scottish Government when it will publish the refreshed Diabetes Improvement Plan.

Answered by Mairi Gougeon (25/02/2021)

We published the refresh of the Diabetes Improvement Plan today.

The Plan is available on the Scottish Government website and can be found at: https://www.gov.scot/isbn/9781800046788

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Question S5W-35577: Health and Social Care

Emma Harper, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 26/02/2021

To ask the Scottish Government whether it will outline the approach that it will take to the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine once the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation groups 1 to 9 have been completed.

Answered by Jeane Freeman (26/02/2021):

We will continue the vaccination programme in line with the independent expert scientific and clinical advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisation (JCVI). We are making excellent progress through the first JCVI priority cohorts. Once we have offered vaccination to these groups, we will therefore continue to follow recently published JCVI advice by inviting adults under 50 who have not yet received the vaccine in age cohorts, as follows:

• All those aged 40-49 years
• All those aged 30-39 years
• All those aged 18-29 years

The JCVI’s recommendation continues to be that an age-based approach is the best way to address the risk of severe illness and mortality associated with the virus and this approach helps us to do that as quickly as possible. This approach will be taken by the 4 Nations across the UK and we will continue to vaccinate as quickly as supplies allow.

Our priority is to save lives, and vaccination remains one of the most important tools we have as we work our way out of this pandemic, alongside our Test and Protect system and the restrictions we all must, for now, continue to live with. We would ask everyone who is invited for a vaccine to go, and I am grateful for the patience of those who we are yet to reach as we roll the programme out further.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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